The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said this week it will provide up to $100 million to support action against the 2019 novel coronavirus. It says the money will help strengthen efforts to test people for the virus, separate healthy individuals from the sick and find treatment for them.
The donation includes the $10 million the Gates Foundation offered in late January.
Controlling the epidemic
Mark Suzman is chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation. He said that national governments, private industry, and aid groups must join together to help protect people who are most likely to get sick. The donation will help speed development of the “tools to bring this epidemic under control,” he said. He added, “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 Foundation is giving money and working with other donors to help the World Health Organization (WHO), Chinese medical workers and others worldwide. When WHO called the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, it noted the need for an organized international effort to fight the virus.
China’s government has also declared a national public health emergency and launched a nationwide effort to contain the virus and treat those who are sick.
Increased efforts to find and treat the coronavirus
The foundation promised $20 million right away to hurry the process of identifying those who are sick, keeping them separate, and helping them get better. The goal is to stop the disease from spreading to more people and places. Some of the money is going to WHO and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Money is also going to public health officials in China and other countries with coronavirus patients. The gift is aimed at helping them pay the start-up cost of medical workers and supplies while governments and international agencies are paying for ongoing operations.
Protecting at-risk groups in Africa and South Asia
Recent epidemics, such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009, have had a big effect on people living in extreme poverty. Most of those people live in African countries south of the Sahara Desert or parts of South Asia. They do not have good basic health care, so they have higher than average health risks.
Another $20 million is going to public health officials in these areas to improve their emergency operations and to treat confirmed cases. One partner is the African Field Epidemiology Network, a non-profit service that currently operates in more than 30 African countries.
Of the total donation, $60 million will go to speed the process of making vaccines to protect against the novel coronavirus. It will also support efforts to learn the best way to treat and identify those who are sick. If the outbreak continues for several months or more, public health officials will need to have safe and effective vaccines and medicines.
One organization working on developing vaccines is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. It has called on scientists to propose research on dealing with the coronavirus. They are already working with Chinese public- and private-sector researchers trying to find ways to stop the spread of the virus.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Jill Robbins adapted a Gates Foundation release for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
epidemic – n. a growing number of cases of an infectious disease in a community
pandemic – n. a situation in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world
epidemiology – n. the study of how disease spreads and can be controlled