The Gates Foundation Puts $120 Million Towards Rolling Out Merck’s COVID-19 Pill In Poorer Countries

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said on Tuesday that it would commit up to $120 million to help low-income countries get a COVID-19 drug developed by Merck.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet authorized Merck’s COVID-19 pill but an advisory panel are scheduled meet to discuss the request on November 30.

The money from the Gates Foundation will go towards supporting the development and manufacturing of generic versions of the pill if it wins regulatory approval, according to the foundation’s statement.

“Low-income countries have had to wait for everything from personal protective equipment to vaccines. That is unacceptable,” co-chair Melinda French Gates said in the statement.

“Today’s commitment will ensure that more people in more countries get access to the promising drug molnupiravir, but it’s not the end of the story — we need other donors, including foundations and governments, to act,” she said.

The move comes as low- and middle-income countries struggle to secure vaccines and treatments needed to help recover from COVID-19, especially in Africa, where only around 5% of the population is immunized.

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