The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard have committed up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments, said a statement issued today.
The partners are committed to equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will play a catalytic role by accelerating and evaluating new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer-term.
Currently there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens, and none approved for use on COVID-19.
The Gates Foundation and Welcome, a health foundation, are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million to catalyse the initial work of the accelerator. The Gates Foundation's funding is part of its $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month. Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry
"Viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly," said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "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 organisations to act quickly to fund R&D."
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders and organisations, as well as the global regulatory and policy-setting institutions.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome said, "This virus is an unprecedented global threat, and one for which we must propel international partnerships to develop treatments, rapid diagnostics, and vaccines. We must strive to strengthen efforts in the face of COVID-19, and in doing so, continue to make sure advances are accessible and affordable to all. Investing now, at scale, at risk and as a collective global effort is vital if we are to change the course of this epidemic. We welcome others to join us in this effort."
"We're proud to join this crucial effort to combat COVID-19 in furtherance of our commitment to inclusive growth," said Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard. "This global challenge not only represents a risk to the health and safety of populations all over the world, but also poses a potential disruption to the economic vitality of millions of people, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Our experience with financial inclusion shows us the importance of building a network of parties who bring not only their capital, but complementary assets and skill sets to the table, and we welcome other partners concerned about inclusive growth to join this effort."