The pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation includes up to $20 million that will immediately go toward detecting, isolating and treating the deadly virus with the goal of containing it, the Seattle-based charity said Wednesday.
The foundation said those funds will go to “multilateral” bodies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, which on Wednesday called for $675 million to help address the virus internationally.
Health authorities in China — the epicenter of the outbreak — and other countries with confirmed cases will also get some support, the charity said.
“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response,” Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said in a statement. “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.”
The foundation will also put up to $60 million toward speeding up development and testing of vaccines for the coronavirus, which it said will be crucial to preventing more deaths if the disease continues to spread for several months.
And up to $20 million will go to health authorities in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which have been hit especially hard by recent epidemics, according to the foundation. The funds will help officials isolate and treat confirmed cases, bolster emergency operations centers, and “implement effective disease surveillance efforts,” the charity said.
The Gates Foundation’s $100 million commitment includes $10 million that it pledged to combat the outbreak late last month, it said. The charity is co-chaired by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — who is the world’s second-richest man with a net worth of $117 billion, according to Bloomberg — and his wife, Melinda, a former Microsoft general manager.