On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In just shy of a month since that announcement, each and every one of us has been deeply impacted by this novel virus. Most of the world is tucked inside and we watch as health workers, first responders, public safety officers, grocery store workers, pharmacists, and essential workers bravely venture out onto the front lines to care for their communities.
In moments of crisis, the power of community and collective action is a beacon of light among loss and fear. At Gates Philanthropy Partners, we are humbled by the powerful action of our community of partners. In just over two weeks since launching our Combating COVID-19 Fund, this incredible community has — together — made more than 1,200 donations totaling $2.4 million.
That is the power of collective giving — donations from $5 to $100,000 channeled into one fund.
Thanks to this incredible outpouring of giving, Gates Philanthropy Partners made its first grant last week. $1 million is supporting the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), one the Gates Foundation’s NGO partners working in Africa.
We know that health systems around the world must prepare for the spread of this virus and the advanced treatment that many cases require. ALIMA’s team is working with the Ministries of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso on response to COVID-19 throughout the healthcare system. These are two countries where poverty and existing weaknesses in the health system will be exacerbated should the virus spread rapidly.
Beyond this immediate grant to ALIMA, Gates Philanthropy Partners is housing the philanthropic arm of the Therapeutics Accelerator, that has raised more than $75 million to advance potential treatment options for COVID-19. Currently, there is no specific antiviral or antibody treatment for COVID-19.In partnership with Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation’s R&D efforts are focused on developing new therapeutic medicines, as well as exploring the possibilities to re-purpose existing medicines already on the market.
Many medicines have already been developed to treat infections caused by other viruses; leading experts are prioritizing work by testing approximately 100 of these marketed medicines to see if any are sufficiently active against COVID-19. As Trevor Mundel, President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Health program, recently wrote, in the last three weeks, two trials have started for existing drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
Just as important as finding a medicine that is safe and effective is ensuring that it will be affordable and accessible in communities around the world. In addition to finding drug treatments, it will be essential to support their licensing, manufacturing, and distribution.
We know that each step takes time — and patience with the process can be challenging as we watch the virus spread within our communities. Every day the global community is learning more about COVID-19 and how to combat it.
We each have the ability to contribute to the end of this crisis. We know the mantra of stay healthy, stay safe, stay home. At Gates Philanthropy Partners, we build on those important words: give boldly, give consistently, give together.
You are making a difference. You are contributing to the front lines of research to combat this virus.