Why we support COVAX: UBS and UBS Optimus Foundation

The UBS Optimus Foundation has launched a campaign to help secure funding for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Vaccines Work spoke to Tom Hall, the UBS Head of Philanthropy Services to find out why.

  • 18 May 2021
  • 3 min read
  • by Gavi Staff
Benedikt v.Loebell
Benedikt v.Loebell


So far, over 60 million doses have been delivered to people in 124 economies. By the end of the year, COVAX is aiming to deliver at least 1.3 billion doses to people in 92 lower-income countries who would otherwise have limited or no access to them. To get there, the support of all partners will be critical. Tom Hall, Global Head of Philanthropy Services at UBS speaks to Vaccines Work about why they have joined the global effort to ensure there is global equitable access to vaccines, and why others should do the same.

1. Why has UBS decided to partner with the Gavi COVAX AMC?

We believe that vaccines are the only way out of the pandemic in the medium term and we know that our clients are motivated to help but wouldn’t individually have the networks and resources to buy and distribute vaccines to some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. The matching opportunity with the Gates Foundation is also very attractive as it means we can vaccinate 19,000 people for the cost of 9,000 as UBS is also adding 20% to every donation our clients give.

2. What role can private foundations play in ending the acute phase of the pandemic?

Private foundations can direct capital into the most effective strategies and partner with organisations such as the Gavi COVAX AMC that can drive real scale and generate impact. Ultimately, we are only safe when we’re all safe.

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3. Why do you think it’s important to make sure that every country gets access to COVID-19 vaccines?

The pandemic has demonstrated just how interconnected the world is and has shown that we are only safe, healthy, and free to travel, be social and connect with others if every part of our world has access to health care. Otherwise we risk spreading new diseases and viruses such as COVID-19, but also grappling with historic killers like malaria. Globally we need healthcare and vaccines to be available to all people; particularly the most vulnerable communities if we want to ensure health and well-being for all and end the acute phase of the pandemic.

4. What would you say to others considering donating to the COVAX AMC? How will it translate in terms of impact?

The multiplier effect is extremely compelling. Also, each vaccine is on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) and has been through the highest standard of evidence generation, so we know with certainty that once each person, community, city, country and continent has been vaccinated we will truly be able to be free again.