Journalists relied on the organizations’ financial statements published on their websites, tax documents, lobbying disclosures and filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The team collectively analyzed thousands of grants and investments.
The analysis is not comprehensive, partly because some data from the organizations is missing. For example, the most recent Form 990 – a tax document for the US – will not be available before 2021 for Wellcome and CEPI. The organization was expected to file it with the IRS in August. Of the 990 forms available from the organizations, not every submission is detailed. For the organizations based in Europe, their deposits do not contain details of their grants or investments. For example, they do not state the beneficiary or purpose of each individual grant.
However, all organizations have published some information about their finances for both 2020 and 2021 on their website. The POLITICO and WELT team used this information to help develop the analysis.
Each organization’s financial records are organized differently. They also use different accounting methods. To get a more accurate picture of how these organizations are impacting the overall financing picture for Covid and pandemic preparedness, the team searched the documents for line items directly related to Covid and pandemic preparedness for 2020, 2021 and part of 2022.
Journalists have not included stocks or bonds in any of the investment analyses. Instead, the team relied on disclosures from the organizations — most notably the Gates Foundation — about loans, volume guarantees and direct equity investments. However, not every organization is transparent about these investments. For example, Gavi has not disclosed how much it has paid for vaccine purchase agreements.
The Gates Foundation has pledged money to a wide variety of recipients. It publishes a comprehensive spreadsheet of all its grants on its website. Journalists used this sheet, as well as information from the foundation’s other financial documents, to track his other investmentsincluding volume guarantees and direct equity investments.
Before the fairs, journalists searched the file for “Covid”, “coronavirus”, “Sars-CoV-2”, “Covax” and “pandemic”, as well as variations of those words. For a separate analysis of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, the team reviewed hundreds of pandemic-related rows of data to determine whether the grant or investment was awarded to advance the development or procurement of vaccines, treatments or diagnostics. Many rows didn’t fit into one of those categories, while others fit into more than one.
The POLITICO and WELT team conducted a similar analysis of Wellcom’s data. Wellcom also publishes a spreadsheet of its Covid-related grants. Journalists confirmed those figures with Wellcom. POLITICO and WELT’s financial analysis identified 24 additional Wellcome Covid-related grants, amounting to $17.2 million.
Gavi does not publish a detailed breakdown of his Covid expenses on his website. However, representatives of Gavi told POLITICO that its Covid spending, at least for 2021, will be reflected in COVAX’s financial statement. In other words, they said the organization’s Covid spending is the same as its 2021 COVAX spending.
CEPI Lists All Its Covid and Pandemic Preparedness Grants on her website.
In its analysis, the POLITICO and WELT team also looked at whether these four organizations have allocated money and invested in similar companies and organizations. They did. Journalists found that they overlapped on 31 recipients.
The POLITICO and WELT team also conducted an analysis of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). ACT-A publishes her financial data online on a rolling basis.
ACT-A representatives set funding priorities and campaigned for donations. In total, the ACT-A has raised $23 billion, according to its website. However, the money did not flow to a central cash bucket. Instead, the money went directly to the agencies involved in the initiative, including Gavi and CEPI. While ACT-A’s website promotes and tracks how much money the initiative has raised from countries for vaccines, tests, treatments and health systems, it’s nearly impossible to say exactly where all the money went. Based on each organization’s individual Covid database, it’s not possible to pinpoint exactly how the groups spent the money raised through ACT-A. It is also difficult to determine in the organization’s grants and investment data how much they have donated specifically for ACT-A programming. For example, the organizations do not use “ACT-A” or similar terminology in their descriptions of their grants and investments.
Representatives who work with ACT-A insist that the boards of the agency are responsible for overseeing that money — not ACT-A itself.
The POLITICO and WELT team also tried to understand the power these four organizations wielded at the World Health Organization. The financial analysis revealed how many Covid-specific grants went to WHO, including its regional offices. Reporters also extracted data from the WHO website to get an idea of how much Gavi, Wellcome and the Gates Foundation have given to the multilateral organization compared to some of the richest countries in the world.