There are initial signs that the coronavirus sweeping the globe––officially known as COVID-19––is slowing its rampage in China, its origin point, but things in the U.S. seem to just be getting started as WHO proclaims the outbreak a pandemic.
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has made a substantial pledge to help researchers develop a treatment.
Funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the donation program––dubbed the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator––is a whopping $50 million to be dispersed to 12 pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms which are actively looking to find an effective vaccine against the coronavirus.
But that donation comes with a crucial caveat: the successful company or companies must make the vaccine affordable and accessible to even the world’s poorest regions.
“Viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly,” Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.
“If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund R&D.”
We’re joining forces with @wellcometrust and @Mastercard to create the #COVID19 Therapeutics Accelerator to identify, assess, develop, and scale-up treatments to the epidemic. https://t.co/zWoOhq7aqM pic.twitter.com/q9aKjdIW2A
— Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) March 10, 2020
As impressive as the $50 million donation is, it’s merely a portion of a larger fund spearheaded by the Gates Foundation. It has partnered with Wellcome, also contributing $50 million, and Mastercard Impact Fund, which has committed $25 million, bringing the grand total to $125 million.