Bill & Gates Foundation announced on Tuesday, Mar. 10, a new initiative with Wellcome and Mastercard to speed up the development of identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling treatments for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.
The COVID-19 Initiative
In a press release, the three groups disclosed that they had accumulated a total amount of $125 million in seed funding for the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, and committed to "equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings."
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will be used to evaluate both new and repurposed biologic and drugs to treat patients with COVID-19 for the immediate term. However, the initiative also aims to address other viral pathogens in the future.
Part of the initiative's plan is to test these drugs on coronavirus for the next five to six weeks.
The initiative will also screen libraries of compounds with verified safety data, as well as consider new ones along with monoclonal antibodies.
Unity Against Coronavirus
As per TechCrunch, access to kits that can determine whether a suspected patient has contracted the novel coronavirus disease is a struggle for almost all the healthcare systems around the world, as with obtaining potentially expensive therapeutics that could be developed by private sectors.
Furthermore, government agencies are also struggling to create a treatment for COVID-19 due to a lack of resources.
The Gates Foundation also stated that there are not enough antivirals and immunotherapies that are available to fight any emerging pathogens, and none is approved for use against the highly infectious new disease ravaging the earth today.
"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," chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, said in the statement.
They also encouraged the government, private sectors, as well as philanthropic organizations to work together to fund the discovery and development of a cure.
Working on a Cure
Meanwhile, StatNews claimed that the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator alone would not be enough to create new medicine, but it should be able to jumpstart the process.
According to them, the president of the Gates Foundation, Trevor Mundel, said that the fund would be divided among companies as well as academic researchers to start the process immediately while waiting for the government's fund.
The Gates Foundation president also said that for a medicine to be developed within the next year to 18 months, an entity should step in between the private and public sectors, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mundel has estimated around two dozen companies will be involved in the process, including both small biotechs and larger pharmaceutical companies.
The Gates Foundation will chip in $50 million--part of the $100 million it pledged last week against COVID--with Wellcome committing the same amount while Mastercard Impact Fund is giving $25 million.
Mastercard established the latter in 2018, which plans to award up to half a billion dollars in charitable grants.