China makes first aid commitment to Gavi

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance speaks during the pledging conference.

Despite Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s ambitious $7.5 billion target, donors rose up to the challenge and pledged slightly more than the set goal: $7.539 billion. These commitments are a reflection of donors’ continued confidence not only in the alliance’s capability to deliver results but also to provide evidence of value for money.

The United Kingdom remains Gavi’s biggest supporter, pledging $2.343 billion in support of the alliance’s work for the next five years. This was followed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($1.553 billion) and the United States ($1 billion), although U.S. commitment is only until 2018.

As Devex previously reported, most of these commitments are higher than pledges for the current 2011-2015 period. The Gates Foundation previously pledged $1.32 billion, while the United States’ commitment was only at $533 million. A portion of the new U.S. pledge, however, is for 2015 as well.

Norway increased its contribution from $757 million to $1.016 billion, and so did Germany ($720 million), which hosted the conference. Canada more than doubled its commitment to $451 million.        

The European Commission also increased its commitment to $240 million. The Netherlands boosted its pledge by more than 40 percent to $308 million — a notable commitment given steady reductions in its foreign aid budget.

Australia, meanwhile, maintained almost the same level of support as it did in the previous pledging period: $260 million. A portion of which may be channeled through the International Finance Facility for Immunization.

And for the first time, China has pledged support for Gavi, promising to contribute $5 million over the next five years. This means all BRICS donors are now contributing funding to the alliance, although Brazil has yet to announce their pledges for this replenishment round.

The pledges are disbursed over a number of years, so actual amounts may differ. For the current purposes though, Gavi used forward-looking rates to get an accurate picture for pledges made in currencies other than US dollars.

Big pharma

While there were no monetary contributions, pharmaceutical companies committed Monday to implement or extend vaccine price freezes to countries that have graduated from Gavi support.

Biological E and Janssen both pledged to offer Gavi and UNICEF-level pricing of its pentavalent vaccines to graduated countries for the next five years. Panacea Biotech meanwhile offered price freezes on all its vaccines that are part of the Gavi program to graduated countries, but only for the first five years.

Sanofi Pasteur, for its part, promised to keep Gavi-level pricing of its yellow fever vaccine to graduated countries until the end of 2018.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC meanwhile is extending its Gavi price freeze commitment for its vaccines against pneumonia, diarrhea and cervical cancer to 10 years after countries graduate from the alliance’s support — a decision that international medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres has long called for. MSF has also been asking the pharmaceutical giant to lower the price of its pneumococcal vaccine to $5 for all three doses.

Pfizer cut down the price of its pneumonia vaccine from $3.30 to $3.10 per dose, and said this price will be extended even to Gavi graduates, although MSF still finds this “inadequate.”

New partnerships

Gavi announced four new partnerships during the two-day replenishment event as well.

Global logistics service UPS will be working with Gavi to develop a training and mentorship program for local supply chain leaders in Gavi-supported countries. The IKEA Foundation also pledged to help raise funding for the alliance’s work, particularly on injection safety measures.

Comic Relief committed to continue raising funds for Gavi through its popular annual events in the United Kingdom, such as Red Nose Day and Sport Relief — events that will be replicated by its U.S. counterpart.

The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation of Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, will help fund purchases of Gavi-negotiated vaccines for Armenia, Azerbaijan, East Timor, Guyana, Kiribati and Moldova.

Gavi aims to reach 300 million children and avert an estimated 5 million to 6 million child deaths in the next five years.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.