As confirmed cases of coronavirus increases across the world, foundations and multinational companies are ramping up funds to help China and health officials combat the disease.
An example of foundations committing funds to halt the spread of the disease is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The international NGO, in a statement released on Wednesday, said it is providing up to $100 million to improve detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia; and accelerate the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics.
This is the second time the foundation will be committing funds to the fight against the disease since it was first detected in Wuhan, a province of China.
The foundation as of last week had committed $10 million in emergency funds and corresponding support to assist frontline responders in China and Africa in their effort to contain the global spread of the disease.
The funds are divided into equal half to assist African and China in the prevention and surveillance of the disease.
However, this new fund will be committed for the global response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
According to the statement, the funding will help strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
The new funding is inclusive of $10 million the foundation committed to the outbreak in late January.
The CEO, Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, said “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.
“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyse a rapid and effective international response. This response should be guided by science, not fear, and it should build on the steps that the World Health Organisation has taken to date,” he added.
The foundation said it is contributing more resources – in close coordination with other donors – to assist WHO, Chinese frontline responders and others at the global and national levels.
Coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan in China, has so far been exported to about 25 countries.
As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases worldwide grew to 24,536, an increase of almost 4,000 (about 20 per cent).
Meanwhile, in China, confirmed cases and deaths have continued to increase.
Most of the deaths in China have been reported from the mainland. Death from the disease stood at 492, an increase of 67 from the previous day.
While China still has the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths, WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the disease is not yet a global pandemic
WHO declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, citing the risks the virus poses globally and the need for a worldwide coordinated effort to enhance preparedness, especially in fragile settings.
The government of China has also declared a national public health emergency and mobilised a nationwide effort to contain the virus and treat those who are infected.
Isolation and Treatment
Most countries, unlike the US who imposed a ban on foreigners coming from China from entering, have been improving their surveillance and preparedness to combat the disease.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it would immediately commit up to $20 million to accelerate the detection, isolation and treatment of people diagnosed with the virus with the goal of interrupting transmission and containing the disease.
Africa and South Asia will also be benefiting from the funding as the foundation will provide up to $20 million to assist public health authorities in enhancing protections for at-risk populations.
The foundation said about $60 million will be committed to research and development to accelerate the discovery, development and testing of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for 2019-nCoV.
“If 2019-nCoV transmission continues for several months or more, safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics will be needed to help sustain long-term approaches to disease control and to prevent severe disease and deaths,” it stated.