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The Open Society Foundations Pledge Fresh Investment of $30.5 Million to Further Vaccine Equity

NEW YORK—On the eve of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and as world leaders gather for a White House virtual global summit on COVID-19, the Open Society Foundations announced a pledge of $30.5 million in solidarity with the fight against vaccine inequity, bringing to more than $230 million their total global investment to combat COVID-19. Furthermore, the Open Society Foundations call on high-income countries to step up efforts to end vaccine inequality and to put an end to vaccine hoarding.

Wealthy countries have failed to make good on their pandemic response commitments, delivering less than 15 percent of the more than 1 billion doses pledged. With the paltry redistribution of doses, over 100 million vaccines could expire by December. “Wealthy countries need to stop stockpiling doses, forcing the rest of the world to rely on handouts. Nations with means must do better,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, president of the Open Society Foundations. “Among low-income countries, fewer than one percent of individuals are fully vaccinated. This is the generational moment that demands global solidarity if we are serious about eradicating this deadly virus.”

“Amidst the many empty promises, there is still an opportunity to turn the tide on this pandemic. To respond to this unparalleled global crisis, the Biden administration and other governments of wealthy nations must present a detailed and bold plan to vaccinate the world,” said Max Lawson, chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organizations campaigning for vaccine equity and a grantee of the Open Society Foundations. “This includes not only donating surplus doses, but immediately and openly sharing vaccine recipes with lower and middle-income countries—so that the rest of the world no longer need to rely on the whims of wealthy nations to fight this pandemic. This must be a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine.”

The Open Society Foundations’ new $30.5 million investment will support efforts to accelerate vaccine access and financing in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, the United States, and Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as vaccines manufacturing for the Global South. It will also strengthen democratic movements around the world by shoring up accountability pertaining to national pandemic responses, supporting efforts to combat misinformation, and promoting stronger safety nets for communities at risk impacted by the pandemic, including women, persons with disabilities, and other groups.

“The Open Society Foundations’ additional commitment comes with a call for all global philanthropies to come together to end the pandemic and build a more equitable future,” said Malloch-Brown. “As the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights, we are proud to support civil society in holding governments accountable for their pledges and commitments on vaccine equity.”

“A year and a half into the pandemic, we are barely closer to securing the global response plan,” said Tom Hart, acting CEO of the ONE Campaign, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations. “G7 countries have shown limited political will to address vaccine inequities, despite having it in their power to do so. The White House summit is a welcome sign of the kind of leadership we need and offers world leaders an opportunity to step-up and deliver.”

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