Topline: Bill and Melinda Gates are donating $100 million to coronavirus vaccine research and treatment efforts, which was announced as part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) request for $675 million in global contributions to fight the spread of the disease.
- The highest number of cases were reported in the 24 hours leading up to WHO’s Wednesday press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, with the total number of infections now surpassing 24,000.
- Despite the spike in the number of patients, Ghebreyesus said a “window of opportunity” exists “to bring this outbreak under control,” because only 190 cases are confirmed outside of China.
- WHO wants to use the requested $675 million for a three-month response plan, with $60 million earmarked to fund their operations, while the rest would go to at-risk countries with less robust healthcare systems.
- In addition to focusing on vaccine and diagnostic research, the Gates Foundation’s $100 million donation will be used to protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia.
- “This response should be guided by science, not fear, and it should build on the steps that the World Health Organization has taken to date,” said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman in a statement.
- During a Tuesday press conference, WHO Infections Hazards Director Dr. Sylvia Briand said the coronavirus outbreak did not classify as a pandemic, but the organization did declare coronavirus an international public health emergency on January 30, 2020.
Crucial quote: “$675 million is a lot of money, but it’s much less than the bill we will face if we don’t invest in preparedness now during the window of opportunity we have,” said Ghebreyesus.
Key background: More than 24,000 people are confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus, while over 490 have died, with all but 2 in mainland China. The U.S. has 11 confirmed cases, and flights from China are being redirected to 11 American airports that are screening those travelers. The illness, which first broke out in a Wuhan food market in December, has since spread to almost 30 countries and impacted local tourism and travel. Companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, IKEA, Hyundai, Tesla, Disney and more have temporarily closed their doors in affected areas. Multiple cruise ships have been quarantined after passengers underwent testing for the virus. The country of Macau, considered the world’s gambling capital, shut down its casino business Tuesday in response to the outbreak, which has sickened 10 people there. Several countries, including the U.S., are denying entry to visitors from Wuhan, and advising against travel to China, while several international airlines have suspended flights to the country. Millions on the mainland have been on lockdown since the Lunar New Year holiday ended January 25, 2020, while a return to post-holiday routines has been disrupted.