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Gates Foundation pledges $100 million to coronavirus response

The Gates Foundation is providing up to $100 million to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
In this Feb. 1, 2019 photo, Bill Gates looks to his wife Melinda as they are interviewed in Kirkland, Washington.

SEATTLE — The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pledging up to $100 million to help combat the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The virus has infected thousands of people in China and around the world.

The foundation said Wednesday that the money will go toward improving detection, developing vaccines, isolation and treatment efforts, and help protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia. The $100 million commitment includes a $10 million pledge the foundation gave in January.

“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.

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The Gates Foundation is committing up to $20 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to “accelerate the detection, isolation and treatment of people diagnosed with the virus with the goal of interrupting transmission and containing the disease.”

On January 30, the WHO declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The United States and China have also declared a public health emergency because of the virus.

The foundation said it will also provide $20 million to help public health authorities in at-risk areas of Africa and South Asia to “strengthen their emergency operations centers, implement effective disease surveillance efforts and improve their capacity to safely isolate and treat confirmed cases.”

Another $60 million will be used to help develop and test vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics of the virus.

“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response," Suzman said. "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.”

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As of Wednesday, at least 425 people have died from the virus, with the total number of cases standing at 20,438.

The current risk of 2019-nCoV to the general public remains low at this time in the United States and Washington state.

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