The current coronavirus crisis begs the question: is it inevitable that the salvation of America’s healthcare and economic meltdown won’t come from federal agencies, big business, or academia, but from the charitable largesse of billionaires like Bill Gates?
The man behind Microsoft has a history of drawing on his personal wealth to help cure diseases that have long eluded both governments and the World Health Organisation. Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, established their foundation in 2000 to foster biomedical innovations against infectious disease, and find inventive ways to distribute them. The 64-year-old entrepreneur has since seeded billions of his own net worth to fund humanitarian causes.
According to Forbes, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator this past March, with US$125 million in funding to speed up the response to the epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling up treatments. As co-chair of the most well-endowed foundation dedicated to global health and American education, Gates has taken on the pandemic that has killed more than one million people worldwide and thrown the global economy into turmoil.
“COVID-19 has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about,” as Gates wrote in a February article for the New England Journal of Medicine. At multiple global summits, Gates had presciently cautioned leaders that the biggest potential threat the world faced wasn’t warfare, but a pandemic. Unlike most of them however he has taken action.
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