Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Uganda registers improvement in Tuberculosis treatment success

By Esther Nakkazi

Uganda was in the for a celebratory World Tuberculosis day last month after the country recorded improved treatment success and increased TB diagnosis capacity.

Treatment success is about 82 percent of the TB patients in Uganda from 75 percent in 2018 although public health experts want a 90 percent treatment success and advise that to get to that all regions should be at the same level.

The Karamoja region in North Eastern Uganda is one of the high burden regions with a TB prevalence rate ten times higher than the national average. The treatment success rate in the Karamoja region was below 50% until an emergency response was declared in 2019. 

“Even in Karamoja sub-region 80 percent of all people treated for TB were cured in the last reporting period, up from 52 percent successfully treated at the start of 2020,” said USAID Uganda Mission Director Richard Nelson at Uganda’s World TB Day National Commemoration event in Moroto. 

TB is the world's deadliest infectious disease, infecting about 10 million people and killing 1.5 million globally each year. Uganda is among the 30 high burden TB and HIV countries in the world.

As dangerous as TB is, it is treatable and curable but in Uganda TB disease still causes illness in about 90,000 Ugandans annually including 1,500 people who get infected with drug-resistant TB. And in Uganda, about 15,600 people died from TB in Uganda in 2019.

Furthermore, in 2019, of the estimated 1,500 drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) cases, only 559 were diagnosed and notified to the National TB and Leprosy Program (NTLP)

“The treatment coverage rate has improved in Karamoja improving the national rate and ending deaths due to TB has improved,” said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health during the National World TB & Leprosy Day events held in Moroto District found in Karamoja region.

The region also became the home of the U.S. government's Accelerated Control of TB in Karamoja program or PACT Karamoja supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched last year.

USAID's PACT Karamoja program is a $7.5 million agreement (2020-2025) that aims to address the Karamoja Region’s high TB prevalence and low treatment success rates by supporting locally generated solutions to mobilize health facilities, village health teams, and community members for accelerated screening, testing, identification, and successful treatment and prevention of TB.

In 2018, the U.S. launched the Global Accelerator to End TB to support countries in reaching the ambitious global targets of diagnosing and enrolling 40 million people on TB treatment and enrolling 30 million on TB preventive therapy by 2022.

“Everyone who is sick should get treatment. This will minimize the risk of passing the infection to others and reduce deaths in the community due to TB,” said Dr. Stavia Turyahabwe, the Assistant Commissioner for the Tuberculosis Leprosy Control Unit at the Ministry of Health.

While there is progress many people who are sick are unaware and deaths from TB are an estimate as most of the cases are not followed up. In 2019, 65,897 TB cases were diagnosed and notified to the NTLP (75 percent); this means that approximately 25,000 cases were either not diagnosed or diagnosed and not notified to the NTLP.

The government has decided to step up awareness and improve TB treatment-seeking behavior. According to the Ministry of Health in Uganda, only 46% of the population is aware of TB and about 40% of the people with signs and symptoms of TB do not seek care for TB services.

“We are instituting mortality TB audits. Although we cannot stop death completely, we can save some lives by understanding the circumstances around death,” said Dr. Turyahabwe.

She said death is occurring in the first few days of initiation of treatment but this is due to delayed diagnosis, limited awareness of the disease and not completing treatment.

“We are also encouraging our facilities that have big numbers of patients to have clinic days so that patients come on appointment and are seen on specific days and share information among themselves,” said Dr. Turyahabwe. This will improve adherence and reduce stigma.

Supported by USAID and other development partners, Uganda has also made milestones in the Treatment Success Rate of Multidrug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB) treatment due to increased roll-out of GeneXpert machines, decentralization of MDR-TB care to regional referral hospitals, and improvements made to the specimen transport system.

Uganda also has the national TB Supranational reference laboratory which is responsible for testing samples that are suspected to be MDR of those that are supposed to have sensitivity for different drugs. The Supranational reference laboratory receives samples from over 22 countries across Africa and is a regional center of excellence, receiving samples for reference testing. 

“We have expanded diagnostics like GeneXpert technology from less than 50 machines to over 280 GeneXpert instruments. Although we continue to use our conventional methods of smear microscopy for follow-up with patients on TB treatment, the GeneXpert technology has eased so much in this finding of tuberculosis,” said Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health.

However, the Ministry acknowledged that an increased rollout of GeneXpert instruments is required and strengthening of the specimen transport system is required as well as increasing access to X-Ray and radiology services in the country including making the services available at the community level through targeted outreach programs would create better outcomes.

Among the challenges, Uganda is facing is increasing mortality among TB/HIV co-infected patients.
About 8,500 people died of TB/HIV in 2019. The ministry of health intends to improve case finding and treatment of people co-infected with TB/HIV and reduce deaths.

Dr. Atwine said they have introduced testing for TB using urine for people living with HIV who are severely ill and unable to produce sputum which too has eased the diagnosis.

In the Karamoja region, while officiating at the World TB day, Dr. Aceng urged community leaders to support the TB program for sustainability. The Ministry of Health which she heads also wants more community engagement and has implemented a National TB Civil Society Organization (CSO) Engagement strategy as well as approved the National Community TB Operational Guidelines in 2019.

With the engagement of community actors studies have demonstrated that these can contribute to increased TB case-finding, TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) uptake, TB treatment support and retention, and awareness about TB. For example, in 2019, 25 percent of TB cases notified in three USAID-supported districts were referred by community actors.

“As individuals, raise awareness about TB, encourage people to seek help early, and support those in care to complete treatment. Support every person with TB to complete treatment for TB,” said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) country director for Uganda Lisa Nelson speaking at the event in Moroto.

Over the last 12 months, there was a 43 percent increase in the number of TB cases identified and a more than doubling in the number of cases successfully treated compared to the prior year. 

This is an important milestone to achieve during the first year of PACT Karamoja implementation amidst COVID-19 in a region with a high burden and past low performance, said Nelson. 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Energy company could pull the plug from South Sudan over non payment

By Esther Nakkazi

The Ezra Construction and Development Group (ECDG) that built and is operating a power plant for the national grid of South Sudan has given notice that the Juba power plant will cease to operate in the next few days due to lack of payment. 

ECDG claims they have continued to supply electricity despite continued failure to make contractually required payments of US Dollar $3million every month by the central bank both in person, in the presence of different stakeholders.

At this moment in time the Ministry of Energy and Dams has failed to make over 85% of payments over the last 15 months. Some of the payments have been delayed for over 400 days.

On 31 March, 2021, the company had notified Hon. Peter Marcello Nasir Jelenge, Minister of Energy and Dams, that it would be forced to take this drastic action unless the government of the Republic of South Sudan urgently made the US Dollar payment as set out in the PPA agreement signed on 16 August 2017. 

In a press release sent out today, Ezra says they have made an extensive investment and made to available over 230,000,000 kWh by the end of 2020. Over 64,000,000 kWh was consumed in 2020 alone by over 20,000 customers marking a successful inaugural year.

Ezra produces bulk energy supplied to JEDCO, which in turn distributes electricity to customers in Juba, who pay in South Sudanese Pounds. The Government, through both the Ministry of Energy and Dams, and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, is contractually obliged to convert the SSP received by JEDCO into US Dollars to pay Ezra for the electricity it generates.

"Despite ensuring the collection of electricity tariff which is made in SSP through our joint efforts in JEDCO from customers, payments due to Ezra as per the contract signed in August 2017 have not been made on time despite numerous attempts to address the situation," says the release. 

Ezra power plant is built with capital expenditure from investors and loans from financiers. The company had managed to secure a one-year grace period from investors, which expired in January, 2021. Ezra now faces additional US Dollar costs, both for fuel and related products required to run the power plant purchases, and capital expenditure obligations from building and maintaining the plant.

Ezra officials say most of the power plant’s production inputs are imported and tied to Foreign Exchange. ECDG is now investing in resources that reduce foreign exchange reliance and is working to source local services and inputs.

It commits to investing in the development and prosperity of South Sudan and has plans to expand additional renewable capacity and hopes to find an amicable and permanent solution, as it continues to meet customer demands.

ECDG also appeals to relief from the Government and is appealing for a collaborative effort to find a permanent solution to the forex convertibility problem that consistently plagues the partnership.


WHO issues calls for health systems strengthening

WHO Press Release: April 6th 2021
GENEVA—COVID-19 has unfairly impacted some people more harshly than others, exacerbating existing inequities in health and welfare within and between countries. For World Health Day, 7 April 2021, the World Health Organization is therefore issuing five calls for urgent action to improve health for all people.

Within countries, illness and death from COVID-19 have been higher among groups who face discrimination, poverty, social exclusion, and adverse daily living and working conditions - including humanitarian crises. The pandemic is estimated to have driven between 119 and 124 million more people into extreme poverty last year. And there is convincing evidence that it has widened gender gaps in employment, with women exiting the labour force in greater numbers than men over the past 12 months.

These inequities in people’s living conditions, health services, and access to power, money and resources are long-standing. The result: under-5 mortality rates among children from the poorest households are double that of children from the richest households. Life expectancy for people in low-income countries is 16 years lower than for people in high-income countries. For example, 9 out of 10 deaths globally from cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.

But as countries continue to fight the pandemic, a unique opportunity emerges to build back better for a fairer, healthier world by implementing existing commitments, resolutions, and agreements while also making new and bold commitments.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has thrived amid the inequalities in our societies and the gaps in our health systems," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It is vital for all governments to invest in strengthening their health services and to remove the barriers that prevent so many people from using them, so more people have the chance to live healthy lives.”

WHO is therefore issuing five calls for action:

Accelerate equitable access to COVID-19 technologies between and within countries

Safe and effective vaccines have been developed and approved at record speed. The challenge now is to ensure that they are available to everyone who needs them. Key here will be additional support to COVAX, the vaccine pillar in the ACT-Accelerator, which hopes to have reached 100 countries and economies in the coming days.

But vaccines alone will not overcome COVID-19. Commodities such as medical oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as reliable diagnostic tests and medicines are also vital. So are strong mechanisms to fairly distribute all these products within national borders. The ACT-Accelerator aims to establish testing and treatments for hundreds of millions of people in low and middle-income countries who would otherwise miss out. But it still requires USD22.1 billion to deliver these vital tools where they are so desperately needed.

Invest in primary health care

At least half of the world’s population still lacks access to essential health services; more than 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household income on health care, and out of pocket expenses drive almost 100 million people into poverty each year.

As countries move forward post-COVID-19, it will be vital to avoid cuts in public spending on health and other social sectors. Such cuts are likely to increase hardship among already disadvantaged groups, weaken health system performance, increase health risks, add to fiscal pressure in the future and undermine development gains.

Instead, governments should meet WHO’s recommended target of spending an additional 1% of GDP on primary health care (PHC). Evidence reveals that PHC-oriented health systems have consistently produced better health outcomes, enhanced equity, and improved efficiency. Scaling up PHC interventions across low- and middle-income countries could save 60 million lives and increase average life expectancy by 3.7 years by 2030.

Governments must also reduce the global shortfall of 18 million health workers needed to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030. This includes creating at least 10 million additional full-time jobs globally and strengthening gender equality efforts. Women deliver most of the world’s health and social care, representing up to 70% of all health and care workers, but they are denied equal opportunities to lead it. Key solutions include equal pay to reduce the gender pay gap and recognizing unpaid health care work by women.

Prioritize health and social protection

In many countries, the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, through loss of jobs, increases in poverty, disruptions to education, and threats to nutrition, have exceeded the public health impact of the virus. Some countries have already put in place expanded social protection schemes to mitigate these negative impacts of wider social hardship and started a dialogue on how to continue providing support to the communities and people in the future. But many face challenges in finding the resources for concrete action. It will be vital to ensure that these precious investments have the biggest impact on those in greatest need, and that disadvantaged communities are engaged in planning and implementing programmes.

Build safe, healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods

City leaders have often been powerful champions for improving health - for example, by improving transport systems and water and sanitation facilities. But too often, the lack of basic social services for some communities traps them in a spiral of sickness and insecurity. Access to healthy housing, in safe neighbourhoods, with adequate educational and recreational amenities, is key to achieving health for all.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent of the world's population living in extreme poverty are in rural areas. Today, 8 out of 10 people who lack basic drinking water services live in rural areas, as do 7 out of 10 people who lack basic sanitation services. It will be important to intensify efforts to reach rural communities with health and other basic social services (including water and sanitation). These communities also urgently need increased economic investment in sustainable livelihoods and better access to digital technologies.

Strengthen data and health information systems

Increasing the availability of timely, high-quality data that is disaggregated by sex, wealth, education, ethnicity, race, gender and place of residence is key to working out where inequities exist, and addressing them. Health inequality monitoring should be an integral part of all national health information systems.

A recent WHO global assessment shows that only 51% of countries have included data disaggregation in their published national health statistics reports. The health status of these diverse groups is often masked when national averages are used. Moreover, it is often those who are made vulnerable, poor or discriminated against, who are the most likely to be missing from the data entirely.

"Now is the time to invest in health as a motor of development," said Dr Tedros. “We do not need to choose between improving public health, building sustainable societies, ensuring food security and adequate nutrition, tacking climate change and having thriving local economies. All these vital outcomes go hand in hand.”

WHO press Release

Monday, March 29, 2021

Radiation boost lowers risk of prostate cancer recurrence


An additional external-beam radiation dose delivered directly to the tumor can benefit the prospects of men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, without causing additional side effects according to the FLAME study. 

The risk of relapse within five years for these men is smaller than for men who did not receive this boost, as shown by a large-scale study initiated by UMC Utrecht in collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Institute, UZ Leuven and Radboudumc.

Radiation therapy is one of the treatment options for men with non-metastatic prostate cancer. Physicians deliver the external beam radiation to the entire prostate, as cancer cells often occur in several areas throughout the prostate. 

Only the main tumor is visible on a scan. If the cancer returns, it often recurs right where that visible tumor was located. Delivering an additional dose to this area appears very effective, as shown by the FLAME trial: a large-scale study involving 571 patients at UMC Utrecht, Netherlands Cancer Institute, UZ Leuven, and Radboudumc. Results will be published on the 20th of January in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Less recurrence
As part of the study, patients received 35 radiotherapy sessions with or without additional radiation boost delivered to the visible tumor. The men who had received the additional boost showed less recurrence over the first five years after treatment than the others. 92% of men who received the boost had low levels of PSA – an important indicator of prostate cancer – compared to 85% of men who had not. All participants were men diagnosed with intermediate- or high-risk tumors.

No additional side effects
“The radiation boost halved the percentage of men presenting with raised PSA levels over the first 5 years after treatment: from 15 to 8 percent,” radiation oncologist and research leader Linda Kerkmeijer of UMC Utrecht and Radboudumc clarifies. “The radiation boost did not lead to additional side effects, which is an important outcome.” The treatment is currently available at UMC Utrecht, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, UZ Leuven and Radboudumc.

Prevent trouble
“Our results can benefit a substantial number of men,” radiation oncologist Floris Pos of the Netherlands Cancer Institute explains. “Every year in the Netherlands, we give radiation therapy to hundreds of men who may qualify for this treatment. This could prevent a lot of trouble: for our patients, cancer recurrence often means uncertainty, diagnostic examinations, and intense treatments like surgery or hormone therapy.”

5 radiation sessions
At the start of the FLAME trial, standard treatment for these patients was 35 radiation sessions. Over the past years, this number has been scaled down to 20, and 5 for men with less aggressive tumor types. “Meanwhile, we have started a follow-up study that combines these new radiation boosts with 5 radiation sessions” (see information below), says radiation oncologist Karin Hausterman of UZ Leuven. “It appears that 5 radiation sessions may become the new standard for this group of patients as well.”

Information about prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the Netherlands. More than 12,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. In about half of these people, the cancer cells are still contained in the prostate (IKNL). These men have multiple treatment options, such as radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or surgical removal of the prostate.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Argobio a 50 M€ new European start-up studio for the creation and development of biotech companies

Esther Nakkazi

Argobio SAS, a newly-created start-up studio dedicated to life sciences, has today been launched with 50 M€ of committed capital for creation and development of therapeutic biotech spinouts. 

Argobio will create and launch at least five ambitious biotech companies over the next five years sourcing innovative early-stage projects from renowned European academic research institutions and it will focus on selected therapeutic areas, including rare diseases, neurological disorders, oncology, and immunology. It will also look to develop promising platform technologies for therapeutic products.

“We are very proud to launch today the first French start-up studio dedicated to Biotech alongside our partners, project on which we are working for more than two years," said Laurent Arthaud, Director of the Biotech and Ecotech investment of Bpifrance.

Argobio was initiated by Kurma Partners, a leading Paris and Munich-based healthcare venture capital firm, and Bpifrance, the French national investment bank who were joined by Angelini Pharma, a private international pharmaceutical company, Evotec, a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company, and the Institut Pasteur, internationally renowned center for biomedical research.

Thierry Laugel, Argobio President & Managing Partner at Kurma, said Argobio has the appropriate capital and environment to make the best of the European early stage biotech opportunities.

According to Peter Neubeck, Partner at Kurma Argobio represents the realization of a longstanding idea at Kurma, namely the creation of a professional biotech project incubator which would allow them to fully leverage the strong proprietary deal flow they are generating from their network with the best European academic institutions. 

Argobio will identify, select, and incubate these projects up to company creation, providing broad expertise in the discovery and development of innovative therapeutic products from its team of highly experienced biotech entrepreneurs. 

"We are very happy and thrilled to start working with this exceptional group of individuals and investors the Argobio concept has brought together with the common vision of turning the best science made in Europe into new therapies for patients around the globe,” Peter Neubeck, Partner at Kurma added.

The investors will have the opportunity to invest in the biotech companies created by Argobio. "we will be able to evaluate promising programs from the top European academic institutions and continue investing in innovative companies that are developing groundbreaking therapeutics in areas of high medical need," said Pierluigi Antonelli, CEO of Angelini Pharma. 

“Building on our BRIDGE strategy and partnerships, we continue to be dedicated to making Evotec’s all-modality technology platforms available to validate and accelerate therapeutic concepts from top-tier academic institutions globally,”said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec SE. 

"As an investor into Argobio, we are delighted to work with a group of distinguished partners and entrepreneurs to build companies committed to the maturation of first-in-class therapeutics towards drugs that which will change patients’ lives and cure diseases with some of the highest medical needs,” Lanthaler.

Prof. Stewart Cole, CEO of the Institut Pasteur, announces: "The Institut Pasteur as a strategic and scientific partner is pleased to participate to the creation of Argobio and to the value creation dynamics Argobio aspires to. 

In 2019, we have set up the Pasteurian Innovation Accelerator (PIA) to increase the development potential of our research applications: we are focusing our efforts on flagship projects certified by an independent committee. The investment of the Institut Pasteur and the close collaboration between PIA and Argobio are fully in line with this strategy”.
The team will be led by Yves Ribeill, Neill Mackenzie and RĂ©mi Soula. Thierry Laugel, Managing Partner at Kurma Partners will be appointed President of Argobio, and Laurent Arthaud, Director of the Biotech and Ecotech investment of Bpifrance, will be appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board.


Monday, March 1, 2021

CABI BioProtection Portal launched in Uganda

The CABI BioProtection Portal, which helps growers and pest management advisors identify, source, and correctly apply biocontrol and biopesticide products for their specific crop-pest problems, is now available in Uganda in the local languages.
The portal, which is predicted to become the go-to resource for identifying and sourcing biocontrol and biopesticide products, will be particularly beneficial for growers looking to replace chemical pesticides with biological products to meet market or export standards, satisfy consumer demands for healthier and safer food and reduce pressures on the environment.

Dr Morris Akiri Regional Director at CABI Africa said, “Globally, an estimated 40 percent of crops are lost to pests and diseases. The widespread use of chemical pesticides to fight crop pests alone is not sustainable either economically or environmentally in the long run especially when you factor impacts exacerbated by climate change”.

“CABI is helping growers to adapt to this major challenge through projects that apply, among other things, our expertise in digital development and crop health as well as products like the CABI BioProtection Portal which promote sustainable approaches to pest management.”

“The CABI BioProtection Portal brings together in one place the various safer and more environmentally friendly biocontrol and biopesticide products that growers can add to their ‘arsenal’ against crop pests as part of an integrated pest management plan.”

Users of the CABI BioProtection Portal enter their country and crop-pest problem query in the system and generate key information on biocontrol and biopesticide products that are authorised by national regulators for that specific search. 

It is increasingly clear that certain kinds of chemical pesticides in agriculture are creating serious human health and environmental effects. Insights will be sourced directly from national governments’ list of registered pesticides and from partner biocontrol manufacturers.

“The government of Uganda has championed several reforms to provide a suitable foundation for the desired transformation in the Agricultural sector. Despite the gains so far attained, a few challenges are imminent. The proliferation of substandard inputs such as pest control products and fertilizers continue to deter our farmers from moving from subsistence to commercial agriculture.”

“There have been occasions in the past where the use of sub-standard products has resulted in the interception of our fresh produce exports hence rendering them less competitive in the global market.”

“It is in the backdrop of these challenges that innovations like the CABI BioProtection portal can play a role in sensitizing farmers and all other key players in the sector with the right information on where to source high quality, effective yet less hazardous crop protection products, said Mr. Pius Wakabi Kasaijja, The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). 

The CABI BioProtection Portal has now been launched in Uganda, in addition to already helping farmers reduce reliance on chemical pesticides in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Jordan, Spain and Peru.

The innovative tool has been made available by CABI in collaboration with its network of partner biocontrol manufacturers (Biobest, e-nema, Idai NatureKoppert Biological Systems, Oro Agri and Syngenta) and donors (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, African Development Bank, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development) who provide invaluable support in the form of technical inputs, strategic guidance and funding.

Find out more information about the CABI BioProtection Portal at

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Gates Foundation to still fund COVID-19 vaccines despite SA Variant news

By Esther Nakkazi

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has expressed disappointment at the news of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca which appears to provide no measurable effect on mild or moderate disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 variant of the virus first identified in South Africa, known as B.1.351. But has promised to fund vaccinations in poor countries.

“This is deeply disappointing news. We’ve all been spoiled lately by how good the news on vaccine science has been,” says Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, which is running a trial of the vaccine in South Africa, released early data from a study of 2,000 patients aged between 18 and 65 years showing a substantial drop in the vaccine’s neutralizing activity against the South African variant following the administration of two doses. The vaccine demonstrated high efficacy against wild-type SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers noted that the study did not assess the vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease from the variant. So at the moment, there is no data if this vaccine could protect against severe or fatal disease caused by the variant.

Several safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 have been developed within the space of only 10 months—the fastest humans have ever gone from identifying a novel virus to inoculating against it. With several additional vaccines coming through the final phases of clinical trials, including those from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, we are still on a trajectory to get everyone protected against COVID-19. It will take time for doses of those vaccines to become available, following regulatory approvals and manufacturing and scale-up.

“The World Health Organization and national health authorities will determine the potential public health
value of this vaccine in South Africa and other countries and make decisions about where and how it
can be used,” says Suzman.

However, the Foundation credits the South African researchers for generating valuable new knowledge that will enable more targeted interventions, helping governments make important decisions about vaccine rollouts and better protect their people. A version of this vaccine is being rolled out in India, where B.1.351 hasn’t yet been detected.

The philanthropy, promises to continue to do our part to keep up the momentum. Building on our
longstanding partnerships, we are working with governments, multilateral organizations, and private
companies to determine how to respond to the latest data said the Gates Foundation.

“We will use our funding commitments of more than $1.75 billion to help accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines that are optimized for lower- and middle-income countries and are effective against the variants.”

The Foundation committed to making new investments in treatments and diagnostics because we’ve learned that research and development on these important tools must accelerate as additional variants emerge.