Gavi Threw Down a $7.5 Billion Funding Gauntlet and Gates Answered

If you aren’t familiar with Gavi, it’s a public-private partnership that promotes equal access to vaccines to children living in some of the world’s poorest countries. Established in 2000, Gavi is financed through NGOs, governments, and government organizations. Last year, Gavi’s geared up to ask for $7.5 billion in replenishment funds—which is no small number, especially when many world economies are just seeing a sliver of progress toward economic recovery and stability. A "pledging confererence" took place in January. 

In the vein of Aristotle’s "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" and all that jazz, over 22 governments put in new pledges totaling nearly $5.1 billion with the U.K. making the biggest give at $1.57 billion. But it wasn’t a world government that made the second-largest give. It was the Gates Foundation, with a $1.55 billion commitment.

Related: Gates Foundation: Grants for Global Health

Those numbers say something about the rise of "big philanthropy," right? 

Now, it’s no big secret that the Gates Foundation is a huge funder of all things related to vaccines, especially when it comes to preventable and treatable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. The foundation also throws money at vaccine research into those largely forgotten scourges like syphilis and dengue fever.

The Gates Foundation has been investing heavily in vaccine research since the late 1990s, awarding over $10 billion in grants since then (including the $1.55 billion Gavi give). In fact, Gates provided Gavi with an initial $750 million in financing to get the alliance off the ground. Since then, the foundation hasn’t made a huge number of grants to Gavi, but the dollar amounts of each of the four grants since 2003 are significant, totaling over $2 billion. With the last pledge of $1.5 billion, Gates is into Gavi for around $4.5 billion.

The total pledges to Gavi from all sources have assured the fund of $9.5 billion, which the organization hopes will take it into 2020 while reaching its global vaccination goals.