In February 2023 the World Bank Pandemic Fund announced that the Governing Board had approved $300 million for a first round of funding to help “developing countries better prepare for and respond to future pandemics”. The Fund is also inviting eligible countries to submit Expressions of Interest (EOI) for potential projects to be supported with this funding.  

The Pandemic Fund 

Established in 2022 at the G20 meeting in Indonesia, the Pandemic Fund is a “collaborative partnership” hosted by the World Bank with WHO as a “technical lead”. It aims to finance “critical investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacities at all levels, with a focus on LMICs.  

First round funding 

The first round of funding prioritises “strengthening comprehensive disease surveillance and early warning, laboratory systems, and human resources/public health workforce capacity”. This is “consistent with a One Health approach”.  

Eligible countries are encouraged to submit EOIs to “facilitate potential collaboration” and “better assess their interest and needs”. EOIs can be submitted until 24th February 2023. The selection process lasts until March, with a review of formal proposals.  

Investment and innovation 

World Bank Group President, David Malpass, is “pleased that the Pandemic Fund is moving forward quickly”.  

“The Fund will play a vital role by complementing investments and technical support from existing international institutions and incentivising countries to increase their own efforts to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity.”  

Dr Chatib Basri, Chair of the Board, described the Fund as a “significant innovation” in the “face of multiple global challenges and competing priorities”.  

“We’re off to a very good start, but the financing needs are enormous, so we look forward to additional contributions in the coming months.” 

Until those funds come in, Dr Basri indicated intentions to “deploy the available funding for greatest impact”. A statement from the Fund suggested that it will “allocate financing where investments are most urgently needed”.  

“The goal is to attract high-impact projects that reflect strong ownership of beneficiaries, catalyse additional external financing, incentivise countries to prioritise and invest in PPR, and promote cooperation and coordination among partners.”  

Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund Secretariat, is “committed” to helping all countries “effectively prevent, detect, and respond to global disease outbreaks”.  

“We are working fast to deliver on that promise, while making sure we get things right.”  

For more on pandemic preparedness plans for future disease outbreaks get your tickets to the World Vaccine Congress in Washington 2023.