The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is joining with the Wellcome Trust and the governments of Germany, Japan and Norway to launch a new Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, starting with a $460 million combined investment — aiming to use vaccines to “outsmart epidemics” like Ebola, Marburg, Zika and future outbreaks yet to come.
The group, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, says it plans to raise a total of $1 billion to fund its first five years.
Organizers say they will be leveraging “exciting developments in adaptable vaccine technology and investing in facilities that could respond quickly to previously unknown pathogens.” The idea is to develop “safe and effective vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks, before they become global health emergencies.”
The group is calling for proposals from researchers and companies to help develop vaccines against targeted diseases.
“We have to be ready for a surprise, and that’s why our goal is really platform development,” Bill Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The Gates Foundation is contributing $100 million to the effort. It’s the latest example of Gates taking a stand for vaccines, at a time when the incoming U.S. president, Donald Trump, has been publicly skeptical about vaccines, citing fears about a purported link to autism. Trump reportedly offered vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a role leading a special commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.”
Gates has called the claim that vaccines lead to autism “an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids.”