Gates Foundation, other charities pledge $125 million to find coronavirus antidote

Gates Foundation, other charities pledge $125 million to find coronavirus antidote
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with two charities to commit up to $125 million toward treatments for the coronavirus. 

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome will each contribute $50 million and the Mastercard Impact Fund will commit $25 million, the foundation announced Tuesday. 

The funding will go toward identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments, and the partners involved in the effort are “committed to equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings,” according to the announcement. 

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The group’s combined effort, known as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, "will work with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders and organizations, as well as the global regulatory and policy-setting institutions."

There are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available to fight against emerging pathogens and none approved for use in COVID-19, the formal name of the coronavirus. 

“If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund R&D,” Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation, said in the announcement. 

More than 115,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed globally as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The most cases, more than 80,000, are in China, where the virus originated. The virus has rapidly spread across other regions, including more than 9,000 cases in Italy, more than 8,000 in Iran and more than 7,000 in South Korea. 

In the U.S., 756 confirmed cases have been reported, according to the Johns Hopkins data.