The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday that it would donate up to $100 million to help combat the outbreak of a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that erupted in China’s Wuhan city in December and has so far hospitalized over 24,000 people globally and killed 492, as of Wednesday.
The Gates Foundation said the funding will be used to improve detection, isolation and treatment of people diagnosed with the virus and protect at-risk populations in underdeveloped regions, such as Africa and South Asia.
Specifically, up to $20 million will be directed to organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as health authorities in China and front-line responders; another $20 million will be used to support emergency operations in Africa and South Asia; and the rest, $60 million, will be allocated for the discovery and development of vaccines and long-term treatments and diagnostics for 2019-nCoV.
“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response,” Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said in an announcement on Wednesday. “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 Gates family is, so far, the first American philanthropist to pledge fundings for the coronavirus crisis. Despite the generous offering, it will be intriguing to see how the Gates’ good intention will play out in a time when an escalating epidemic has strained the already tense U.S.-China relationship into a deadlock.
Over the weekend, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson bashed the U.S. government for “overreacting” to the coronavirus outbreak by banning Chinese citizens from entering the U.S. and not providing any “material aid” to contain the spread of the virus.
Stateside, though, the White House claimed that the U.S. had offered its top top public health experts to help China combat the outbreak, but, so far, Beijing had turned a deaf ear. On Sunday, President Donald Trump’s chief national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien said on CBS’ Face the Nation, “This is a worldwide concern—we want to help our Chinese colleagues if we can. We’ve made the offer and we’ll see if they accept.”