The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will provide up to $100 million to improve detection, isolation, and treatment efforts related to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The commitment, which includes a $10 million pledge announced by the foundation in January, will support efforts to protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia and accelerate the development of a vaccine, drugs, and diagnostics. The foundation — in coordination with other donors — also will contribute resources to assist the efforts of the World Health Organization, frontline responders in China, and others. Last week, WHO declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, citing the global risks posed by the virus and the need for a coordinated worldwide effort aimed at enhancing preparedness, with a focus on underresourced countries.
The latest commitment from the foundation includes up to $20 million in immediate assistance to multilateral organizations such as WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Support also will be directed to national public health authorities in China and other countries that have reported confirmed cases. Current national-level partners include the National Health Commission of China and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another $20 million has been committed to help public health authorities in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa strengthen their emergency operations centers, implement effective disease surveillance efforts, and improve their capacity to isolate and treat confirmed cases. Among African Union member states, the efforts will be supported by the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), in collaboration with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO-AFRO. AFENET is a nonprofit alliance of field epidemiology and laboratory training programs that operates in more than thirty African countries.
"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 Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. "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."
(Photo credit: Gettyimages - Manjurul)