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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Rockefeller Foundation reaches $30M agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific for COVID-19 tests

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The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to boost vaccination efforts in the United States with a $30 million new advance market commitment (AMC) with Thermo Fisher Scientific to procure and stock COVID-19 tests.

The investment will provide guaranteed demand to test manufacturers. In return, the stock that results, the organization hopes, will allow more schools, communities, and the larger economy to reopen safely. At least, for the 23 participants in The Rockefeller Foundation’s State and Territory Alliance for Testing, which will be given priority. Other public and private buyers will be able to benefit thereafter.

This will also be the first test for RF Catalytic Capital, Inc. (RFCC), the Foundation’s public charity. It is through RFCC that the AMC will be invested. The AMC will also be replenished as tests are bought and sold, allowing for scale to continue to expand beyond the initial $30 million commitment. Some 300,000 COVID-19 tests have already been purchased and sold to states through the facility, at the cost of $9 million.

“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,” Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, said. “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 organization intends to continue even after vaccination efforts accelerate massively scaling testing to inform decision-makers on where to target resources to effectively counter the pandemic. It will also work to ensure a steady supply of tests — some even at lower prices than states would be able to purchase individually — to counter what it labels as the lack of effective coordination between federal and state governments, as well as quickly evolving testing technologies and protocols.

Under the circumstances, The Rockefeller Foundation notes, states have been unable to assess how many tests they will need to purchase and when causing competition to spike and access to plummet. By collaborating with a distributor like Thermo Fisher, the organization intends to support the procurement of a range of tests from different manufacturers and support testing for the most vulnerable populations promptly.