Category Archives: International

How Philanthropists Are Fighting the Novel Coronavirus

How Philanthropists Are Fighting the Novel Coronavirus

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus and its associated illness COVID-19 has caught many organizations, as well as the federal government, off guard. Critics have said that the government’s response to the crisis has not been adequate. In the space left by government inaction, several well-known tech billionaire philanthropists have stepped in to provide better services and fuel research.

Two of the people that have made the biggest impact are Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. While both of these philanthropists are focusing primarily on serving the people in their local areas, their efforts have made it easier to get tested for the virus.

How Mark Zuckerberg Is Fueling Testing Capacity in California

Mark Zuckerberg | Image by JD Lasica | Flickr

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a philanthropic organization operated by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan. In affiliation with CZI Biohub, CZI purchased two additional clinical diagnostic machines, essentially quadrupling the ability to test for and diagnose cases in the San Francisco Bay Area. This region has faced many difficulties in terms of tracking the spread of the virus due to a testing bottleneck, so the new machines were a very welcome addition to the efforts of healthcare officials working toward getting more accurate numbers and delivering necessary care to patients with COVID-19.

While philanthropy in general has received criticism in recent years for supplanting the role of government in some instances, people like Zuckerberg can play a critical role when it comes to helping in the management of a public health crisis.

Bill Gates Improves Testing in Seattle and Funds Treatment Search

Bill Gates
Image by OnInnovation | Flickr

The Seattle area was also hit with several of the earliest cases in the United States. Under the direction of billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded a version of testing kits that can be used at home and sent safely to a lab for analysis. This sort of technology makes it possible to self-quarantine before a positive result and reduce the risk of exposure to healthcare workers. People who test positive can then be treated through telehealth or transported safely to a quarantined unit if necessary.

Home testing kits have the potential to reduce the spread of the virus and minimize the impact of COVID-19 on Seattle and perhaps the rest of the country. Such interventions from charitable organizations have been welcome in the wake of the government’s slow response to increasing testing.

The Gates’ are helping in other ways besides increasing capacity for testing in Seattle. Recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation teamed up with Wellcome and the Mastercard Impact Fund to form the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. With a combined $125 million in funding, researchers will work toward scalable treatments for COVID-19.

Currently, no immunotherapies or broad antivirals have been approved for the empiric treatment of emerging virus pathogens, and unfortunately, the scientific research world moves very slowly.

The new accelerator, in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the public and private sectors, will facilitate collaboration and communication to speed discoveries and keep research from being repeated unnecessarily.

Funding from philanthropists can help bolster government efforts and drive collaboration, leading to quicker discoveries and streamlined interventions. The immediate intention of the accelerator is to find affordable solutions for COVID-19 that can be used around the world. Early efforts are looking at the efficacy of existing antivirals alongside potential novel solutions.

Gates and Zuckerberg Work to Mobilize Mutually Developed Technology

Gates and Zuckerberg have also joined forces in their mutual crusade against the novel coronavirus. The two partnered very early in the outbreak of the virus to fund researchers in Cambodia. With the support of these two philanthropists, scientists quickly sequenced the full genome of the specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which is what made testing for the disease much easier. Plus, the Cambodian team made a public version of the IDSeq tool (unveiled in 2018 by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and developed along with the Gates Foundation) so that scientists can study the entire genome of the virus, particularly in the context of outbreaks occurring across the world. Making this data publicly available helps track any mutations in the virus, which can point to clues toward treatment and also help predict the virulence of the disease.

Other Major Philanthropists around the World Step up

Other philanthropists, such as Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, are getting involved as well. At the end of January, Ma donated more than $14 million toward the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. He divided this gift among two Chinese government organizations working on the issue, as well as the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia.

The richest man in Hong Kong, Li Ka-Shing, donated $100 million in February to help medical workers in Wuhan through the Red Cross Society of China. This money was earmarked to provide supplies and other necessities for treating patients and keep healthcare workers safe from the virus.

As Italy has the highest number of cases outside of China, Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani donated more than $1.4 million to help fight the outbreak there.

6 Predictions for the Evolution of the Philanthropy Sector in 2019

6 Predictions for the Evolution of the Philanthropy Sector in 2019

The ways in which both prominent philanthropists and ordinary people donate has changed rapidly in the past few years. Moving into 2019, strategies and trends will continue to shift. Understanding the changes that will likely occur and the issues underlying the new approaches to giving can help nonprofits more effectively appeal to donors and help… Continue Reading

This Is What You Need to Know about the Recent Megadonor Collaboration on Ocean Conservation

This Is What You Need to Know about the Recent Megadonor Collaboration on Ocean Conservation

In the past decade, a number of megadonors have adopted ocean conservation as one of their flagship causes. Often, these individuals approach the issue with radically different ideas and philosophies. However, this situation is not necessarily a bad one, especially if different donors join forces to benefit from each other’s particular points of view. This… Continue Reading

Honoring the Philanthropy of Microsoft Cofounder Paul Allen

Honoring the Philanthropy of Microsoft Cofounder Paul Allen

Following the death of prominent philanthropist David Rockefeller last year, the world of philanthropy recently lost another giant: Paul Allen. The cofounder of Microsoft Corporation, Allen made a name for himself as a philanthropist not afraid of taking risks. During a time when the majority of foundations and individual donors gave cautiously and backed only… Continue Reading

This Is What You Need to Know about How Melinda Gates Is Inspiring Philanthropic Commitment to Women in Tech

This Is What You Need to Know about How Melinda Gates Is Inspiring Philanthropic Commitment to Women in Tech

Women are assuming larger roles in American philanthropy. Their efforts have drawn attention to other gender disparities in the United States. One of the topics that has received a lot of attention recently is gender diversity in the technology industry. Research has shown that only about 11 percent of senior technology leaders are women. Executives… Continue Reading

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: The Search for a New CIO

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: The Search for a New CIO

The billionaire founder of Facebook Inc. Mark Zuckerberg, along with Dr. Priscilla Chan, his wife, recently announced that they are on the hunt for a chief investment officer (CIO) who will manage more than $10 billion in philanthropic contributions through their LLC, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The organization has brought on Yale University’s longtime CIO… Continue Reading

6 of the Ways Nonprofits Can Demonstrate a Commitment to Transparency

6 of the Ways Nonprofits Can Demonstrate a Commitment to Transparency

When vetting a nonprofit that you are thinking about donating to, it is important to think about transparency. When nonprofits operate transparently, they build trust with the people supporting them. Legally, nonprofits have to disclose certain information to the public and board members must have access to financials to fulfill their role. Ideally, a nonprofit’s… Continue Reading

You Need to Know How the Red Cross Made a Difference in These Locations

You Need to Know How the Red Cross Made a Difference in These Locations

While most people know the American Red Cross organizes blood donations, they may not know that the organization has created a range of different programs in the United States to help people prepare for and respond quickly to natural disasters. The Red Cross also provides services for veterans. Alongside its efforts in the United States,… Continue Reading