Muhammad Ali Pate, a Harvard professor who has held top health jobs in Nigeria, has relinquished the top job at the Gavi global vaccine alliance, the organization announced Monday.
Pate, a medical doctor trained in internal medicine and infectious disease, was due to assume the helm on August 3, Gavi had announced in February, taking over from U.S. medical epidemiologist Seth Berkley, who had been in charge since 2011.
Pate informed Gavi “that he has taken an incredibly difficult decision to accept a request to return and contribute to his home country, Nigeria,” the statement said, without further details about the decision.
Gavi’s Chief Operating Officer David Marlow will instead assume the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer while a search for a new CEO continues.
The Gavi vaccine alliance is a nonprofit organization created in 2000 to provide an array of vaccines to developing countries.
Gavi says that since its inception, it has provided vaccines to more than 981 million children, “and prevented more than 16.2 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries.”
Gavi has taken the lead on the COVAX initiative, alongside the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
The global scheme has so far shipped nearly 1.9 billion COVID-19 vaccines to 146 territories, with the focus on providing donor-funded jabs to the 92 weakest economies.