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Gates and his wife, Melinda, charity donated $100 million through their charity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on Feb. 5 to prevent what Gates called the "once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about."
Because 11 people died from the virus in Washington state, the foundation committed an additional $5 million to help public health organizations in Seattle to better detect the disease. The Seattle area, where the first U.S. cases were reported, had a slow response because effective lab tests weren’t available during the first weeks of the outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration has since announced that it would allow labs to develop their own diagnostic test for the virus.
“The COVID-19 epidemic reminds us that infectious disease respects no boundaries, and no community is immune to the threat of a global pandemic,” Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said in a news release. “We can, however, take steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Seattle and around the world, and we are ready to support these efforts here in our home community.”
In addition to donating $100 million to fund research, Bill and Melinda Gates also paid for specific research. The couple paid for 15,000 medicinal molecules to be shipped to a leading laboratory in Belgium to be tested as a potential cure to the coronavirus. The molecules, from the Scripps research institute in California, will be shipped to the Rega Institute for Medical Research, in Brussels. The Scripps institute has a collection of active ingredients for a vaccine.
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and the wealthiest man in China whose fortune is estimated at $42.4 billion, committed $14.4 million in January toward funding the vaccine development for coronavirus in Wuhan. He has since dumped an additional $2.15 million toward developing a vaccine at Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia. Alibaba has also announced it will give $144 million toward the purchase of medical supplies for use in Wuhan.
The total number of confirmed cases in the United States has risen to 165. More than 70 cases have been confirmed in the state of Washington of which 30 cases have been confirmed since Wednesday. The virus has infected 93,000 people globally and has claimed over 3,000 lives.