With the WHO officially announcing that COVID-19 is to be considered a pandemic, three organizations come together to fund the rapid development of potential antivirals or immunotherapies against the coronavirus.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and Mastercard have announced a fund of $125m (€111m) and named the project the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The fund will work alongside the WHO on the plans, and the expertise of the pharmaceutical industry will be ‘critical’ to the endeavor.
In its statement on their efforts, the partners outlined that they are “committed to equitable access” to any potential treatment brought to the market through their efforts – this specifically aims to make such a product “available and affordable in low-resource settings.”
One of the major challenges should a vaccine or therapy for the virus be developed would be the scale up of manufacturing to make the treatment available as quickly as possible.
The partners have already figured this problem into their plans, stating that they are mindful of having an ‘end-to-end focus’, which would include “work[ing] with regulators to align criteria and develop manufacturing capacity with industry.”
Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, said, “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.”
The Gates Foundation has previously called on industry to increase ‘risky’ investments – the kind that not might deliver short-term profit but could make a significant societal impact.
Industry in Europe and the US, alongside the respective regulatory bodies, has provided updates on the work being done in the face of the newest virus.
The same day as the formation of the accelerator, CNBC reported that Amazon Care had reached out to the Gates Foundation to provide assistance in delivering test kits to Seattle, US, residents.