The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is ramping up its efforts to fight the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak with a substantial pledge—up to $100 million to assist detection, containment, and treatments as the so-called 2019-nCoV virus wreaks havoc across multiple nations in Asia and Africa.
“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response. This response should be guided by science, not fear, and it should build on the steps that the World Health Organization has taken to date,” said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman in a statement.
The $100 million total includes $10 million that the philanthropic organization already dedicated to coronavirus containment efforts in January.
The money, according to the organization, will come in stages—including an immediate $20 million commitment for a number of public health organizations such as the WHO, the CDC, and health workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in China.
Another $60 million will be funneled to global partners such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations in order to fuel vaccine and anti-viral drug development.
It’s a curated strategy, homing in on the nations and organizations which may need—and will be able to respond—to the outbreak in an efficient manner.
Public health agencies are balancing the art of caution with the nature of the viral threat. Factors such as population density and the strength a region’s health care infrastructure play a large part in how a pathogen spreads. Furthermore, transmissibility and mortality are two separate issues: Just because you can contract something doesn’t necessarily mean it will kill you.
However, the quarantines, travel restrictions, and economic repercussions across certain countries grappling with this outbreak underscore the concerns that global health officials have given the virus’ unpredictability.
“Multilateral organizations, national governments, the private sector and philanthropies must work together to slow the pace of the outbreak, help countries protect their most vulnerable citizens and accelerate the development of the tools to bring this epidemic under control,” said the Gates Foundation’s CEO Suzma.