Gates aids fundraising drive for global vaccine distribution

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2019 file photo, philanthropist and Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates gestures as he speaks to the audience during the Global Fund to Fight AIDS event at the Lyon's congress hall, central France. A new mass fundraising campaign, launched Wednesday, April 28, 2021, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO Foundation, and corporate, religious, and world leaders, aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.  (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2019 file photo, philanthropist and Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates gestures as he speaks to the audience during the Global Fund to Fight AIDS event at the Lyon's congress hall, central France. A new mass fundraising campaign, launched Wednesday, April 28, 2021, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO Foundation, and corporate, religious, and world leaders, aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A new mass fundraising campaign aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Called Go Give One, the campaign was launched Wednesday by the WHO Foundation and corporate, religious, and world leaders. Seed money for the effort was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The campaign will contribute to the $3 billion in Covax funding needed to vaccinate almost 30 percent of people in 92 low-income countries sometime next year. That support will come from donors like those who contribute to the Go Give One campaign as well as cost-sharing agreements.

Meanwhile, the $6.3 billion that’s so far been committed to Covax has come primarily from global governments, in addition to the World Health Organization, Unicef, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Go Give One aims to mobilize small-dollar donors around the world to give roughly $10 each toward the cost of COVID-19 vaccines — which are priced at about $5 a shot. The specifics of the campaign are still being ironed out, organizers said. The global campaign will collaborate with public health-care systems and individual mass vaccination sites to advertise the campaign.

Organizers also plan to involve businesses through workplace giving campaigns and promotions on corporations’ social-media platforms. Facebook has also pledged to host a fundraising campaign for the effort and match as much as $5 million contributed through the platform.

Gavi and Unicef are already appealing for donations from individuals to support Covax, and some donors have launched their own campaigns on crowdfunding platforms. Go Give One, however, aims to jump-start a unified effort that can be replicated around the world, said Anil Soni, chief executive of the WHO Foundation. It will aim to provide companies with a simple giving platform that they can share with employees and customers.

The approach is similar to previous cross-sector campaigns to fund HIV treatment, when donors contributed small sums to provide medication to HIV-positive individuals. Soni, who spent years working at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and later the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, says those campaigns showed the difference one person can make in a global crisis. “It was that individual engagement that caused collective action that caused governments to do their part,” he said.