Paul G. Allen and Vulcan Inc., the private company established by Allen to manage his business and philanthropic affairs, have announced two grants totaling $2.05 million to address the Zika outbreak in Brazil.
Awarded through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the grants will provide funding for new tools that can detect Zika as well as broad community engagement efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of the outbreak. To that end, the American Red Cross was awarded $1.5 million in support of integrated vector-control activities in Zika-affected areas, with a focus on health, sanitation, hygiene promotion, and preparedness for up to 1.2 million people, starting in Brazil and eventually expanding to other countries.
"Education and innovation are vital to stemming global health epidemics," said Harold Brooks, senior vice president of international services at the American Red Cross. "Paul G. Allen and Vulcan Inc.'s generous contribution supports the global Red Cross network's ability to prevent the spread of Zika and identify new ways of addressing present and future health emergencies."
In addition, the foundation awarded a $550,000 grant to Chembio Diagnostics Systems to develop a suite of point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests for Zika, including a standalone Zika test and other tests that can differentiate between multiple fever illnesses. Currently, only laboratory diagnostic tests are available for Zika.
The grants follow Allen's $100 million commitment in 2014 to help end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. "While the Zika virus may not have the deadly consequences of Ebola," Vulcan Inc. said in a statement, "the lessons learned from that outbreak can be applied to prevent this one from becoming the next pandemic."