Rockefeller Foundation Launches $30 Million Commitment to Ramp up Procurement and Distribution of COVID-19 Testing
As America's vaccination efforts launch, The Rockefeller Foundation announced a new $30 million Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to scale up pandemic testing needs and safely reopen schools, communities, and the economy.
The investment serves as a financial guarantee that enables Thermo Fisher Scientific to procure and strategically stock up to $30 million in COVID-19 tests at a time.
In addition to incentivizing COVID-19 test manufacturers through guaranteed demand, the distribution of the tests will occur on a priority basis to the 23 participants of The Rockefeller Foundation's State and Territory Alliance for Testing, followed by other public and private buyers.
"Just like we need breakthroughs in the lab, we need breakthroughs in the marketplace to get tests to the frontlines quicker, cheaper, and more efficiently than ever before," said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, in a press statement issued on January 14, 2021.
"This innovative collaboration will change business as usual, avoid detrimental competition between states, and help us deploy rapid tests straight to schools, nursing homes, and workplaces to stop outbreaks before they spread."
The $30 million investment to the Advance Market Commitment is made through RF Catalytic Capital, Inc. (RFCC), the Foundation's public charity.
This is the RFCC's first initiative, which was launched in September 2020 as a new innovative tool for foundations, impact investors, businesses, and governments to combine their resources to scale funding solutions and bring about transformational change during the COVID-19 response and recovery.
As tests are bought and sold, the AMC will replenish, allowing for additional scale beyond the initial $30 million commitment. The first order of 300,000 COVID-19 tests, costing $9 million, has already been purchased and sold to states through the facility.
Even when vaccination efforts start to accelerate, the U.S. still needs a massive scale-up of testing to inform decision-makers on where to target resources to keep the pandemic under control effectively.
However, a lack of effective coordination between federal and state governments and quickly evolving testing technologies and protocols had made it difficult for states to plan how many tests they will need to purchase and when, said this press release.
This, in turn, has led to competition between states in purchasing limited test supplies and a lack of timely access to additional testing capacity when needed most.
The AMC will ensure a ready supply of tests, and in some instances at a lower price than what states would receive if purchasing tests individually, while also sending a clear demand signal to manufacturers to continue to ramp up production.
By collaborating with a leading distributor like Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Foundation's guarantee can be utilized to support the procurement of a range of test types from different manufacturers, ensuring that the right tests are getting to the right people at the right time to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable populations.
"Even as vaccine efforts scale-up, testing will continue to play a major role alongside masks and social distancing, and it is important that communities have assured access to high-quality, FDA authorized tests," added Mark Stevenson, EVP, and COO, Thermo Fisher Scientific.
"Thermo Fisher is able to meet aggressive test supply demands, and we look forward to supporting the Rockefeller Foundation on this initiative."
Since the Alliance's launch in August 2020, The Rockefeller Foundation's bipartisan group of 23 governors have been working together, sharing best practices and challenges to learn from each other's experiences while deploying rapid tests where they are needed most.
In addition to the 300,000 procured through the AMC, the Alliance has used its joint purchasing power to acquire more than 3 million tests over three months, providing local public health officials with a critical tool to beat back the pandemic.
As recommended in the Foundation's third National COVID-19 Testing Action Plan released in December 2020, the federal government could expand and utilize the Alliance to centralize procurement, payment, and distribution for all tests and test supplies in accordance with the needs as defined by states and territories.
"From the outset of this pandemic, The Rockefeller Foundation has worked to resolve the problems cities and states have faced in stopping the chain of transmission of COVID-19," stated Eileen O'Connor, SVP of The Rockefeller Foundation.
"Continued testing is needed to tell us how long immunity lasts with the vaccine and whether, even if immunized, a person can still transmit the virus. It will also indicate any mutations that arise."
Separately, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker reported over 267 million RT-PCR diagnostic tests, excluding antibody and antigen tests, have been performed to confirm if a person has a SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, as of January 15, 2021.
The state of California leads the USA with 32,228,484 coronavirus tests performed, followed by New York (24,111,213), Florida (18,510,622), and Texas (16,406,210).
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster the large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations.
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