Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan's philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), is joining the efforts to contain the coronavirus and help those affected by it. On Friday, CZI announced that it had donated $25 million to the "COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator." The donation was made in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard. It's the first major coronavirus-related donation Zuckerberg has made, and it hopes to find existing drugs that can help treat the coronavirus while the work to develop a vaccine continues.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. meanwhile, has been leading the billionaire charge through multiple initiatives: a CDC chatbot to help people self-assess, tracking software to monitor the spead of COVID-19 cases, and $100 million in funding for global research on the disease. Bill Gates also recently engaged in a frank and comprehensive conversation with the founder of the TED Talks series about the ways governments have failed to tackle the spread head-on.
What CZI says — In an official statement on its donation, the CZI said:
We’re excited to partner with the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard to help the biomedical research community quickly identify, develop, and test treatments for COVID-19. The Therapeutics Accelerator will enable researchers to quickly determine whether or not existing drugs have a potential benefit against COVID-19. We hope these coordinated efforts will help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as provide shared, reusable strategies to respond to future pandemics.
COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator — With CZI's donation of $25 million, the Gates Foundation's COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator now has a total of $125 million in funding, according to Recode. This funding is key to conducting in-depth research for a possible treatment for the coronavirus. It could take years to find a vaccine that could help those infected and radically limit the spread of the virus, but in the interim, an effective treatment would help.
How this helps — Through funding, researchers might be able to expedite the process of developing a new treatment and distributing it to pharmaceutical companies after receiving the requisite regulatory approval. Funding can also help researchers looking into existing drugs to see whether they are effective for treating COVID-19, which could prove a crucial stopgap and reduce the strain on hospitals where intensive care units are already strained and ventilators are limited.
Earlier in March, the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, explained that collaborative efforts and donations are highly beneficial. "We can help by partnering with private and philanthropic enterprises to lower the financial risk and technical barriers for biotech and pharmaceutical companies developing antivirals for COVID-19," he said. $25 Million is a good way to keep that momentum going.