Gates Foundation will commit ‘total attention’ to coronavirus pandemic
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now devoting all of its attention to addressing the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in an interview published Sunday.
Gates told The Financial Times that his foundation , which has an endowment of more than $40 billion, was prepared to put all of its resources toward fighting the virus, even if it meant efforts to combat other deadly diseases would suffer as a result.
“We’ve taken an organization that was focused on HIV and malaria and polio eradication, and almost entirely shifted it to work on this,” Gates, a leading philanthropist, said. “This has the foundation’s total attention. Even our non-health related work, like higher education and K-12 [schools], is completely switched around to look at how you facilitate online learning.”
The Gates’ foundation has already committed $250 million toward coronavirus relief efforts around the world. The group’s most recent $150 million pledge is set to go toward international efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, as well as efforts to provide resources to African and South Asian countries.
This latest commitment means that all of its workforce and expertise will be directed to the current pandemic. Gates said that clinical trials for new AIDS drugs would take a backseat to the work being done to develop treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“This emergency has distracted a lot of critical work in many, many areas,” he said.
The billionaire philanthropist predicted that the virus’s outbreak would cost the global economy “tens of trillions of dollars” and that some nations would have “greatly reduced” economic activity for years because of it.
Nearly 3 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, including about 940,000 individuals in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The virus has caused more than 200,000 deaths, including more than 50,000 in the U.S.
Gates has remained extremely vocal during the crisis. After President Trump vowed to freeze funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its response to the outbreak, he tweeted that the move was “as dangerous as it sounds.”
He reiterated those comments while speaking with The Financial Times, saying that WHO is a “very important” body that “should actually get extra support to perform their role.”
“I think [Trump] will do deep analysis and decide that they probably should get more money, not less money,” Gates said.