Gates Foundation CEO: Cross-sector collaboration needed to develop treatments for COVID-19

On February 7, 2020, Mark Sussman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited the H3D laboratory at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Source: Atria

Source: Gates Foundation

I wrote an article about global health, and I have an AIDS crisis that happened in South Africa in my hometown. It was 1991, and in a story I published as a reporter in the Johannesburg Star, I presented experts’ gloomy forecasts of a possible AIDS outbreak. The pessimism is mainly due to the lack of medical means for preventing and treating AIDS at the time.

When SARS (SARS) in 2002, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, Ebola (Ebola) in 2014 and Zika virus (Zika) in 2016 broke out, the world also had no vaccines and medicines to deal with. Today, the previously unknown coronavirus, COVID-19, has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide, and we continue to face the same challenges.

Any illness that threatens life is uncomfortable, and diseases without corresponding treatment methods are especially worrying. As we have seen in the new champion of neoguan, many countries have given huge manpower, economic and social costs. The Gates Foundation is doing everything it can to help reduce the burden of disease, especially on the world’s poorest people – who are often the hardest hit by infectious diseases and the hardest to recover from after a pandemic group.

To that end, we are joining forces with the Wellcome Trust and Mastercard Corporation today to contribute $125 million (including new and allocated funds) to strengthen the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund will be used to screen and accelerate the research and development of potential treatment for neoguanpneumitis, and prepare for subsequent mass production and global promotion. The new partnership, called the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, and the active participation of specialty pharmaceutical companies will be critical to its success.


Researchers work in the laboratory. Source: Atria

Epidemics often bring enormous challenges to the world. To protect people, especially to protect vulnerable groups, we need to find a solution to problems – accelerate drug development and slow down viral communication speed. The only way to treat viral infections like neoguanpneumitis is the use of antiviral drugs. However, because this field is still blank, we can only treat the symptoms but not the root causes of different symptoms, and cannot deal with multiple situations more thoroughly like antibiotics treat bacterial infections.

The speed of neoguan pneumonia virus and similar viruses is very fast, but the development of related vaccines and drugs is relatively slow. To address such challenges, private companies and philanthropic organizations can work together to help reduce financial risks and technical barriers for biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop antiviral drugs for COVID-19. We are very optimistic about the progress this new approach can bring, because based on our past experience in fighting other epidemics, such cooperation and coordination can often pay off. Prevention of infectious diseases is to inoculate vaccines. In this field, a typical example is an epidemic prevention innovation alliance (CEPI). The alliance was founded in 2017 by Germany, Japan, Norway, the Wellcome Foundation and the Gates Foundation with a joint investment of nearly US$650 million, and the United Kingdom, Canada, Ethiopia, Australia, Belgium and the European Commission have subsequently joined. The mission of the alliance is to significantly shorten the time required for new infectious diseases, and ensure that vaccines can be promoted with fair and affordable prices. Recently, some companies can quickly launch vaccines for neoguanpneumitis, to a certain extent, because of the strong support and funding of CEPI.

How to deal with new coronaviruses. Source: How the Gates Foundation’s official website research and development work responds to the new coronavirus.Source: Gates Foundation official website

Today, we launched the ultimate goal of “new corona pneumonia treatment accelerator” to accelerate the global research and development of new infectious diseases, just like Cepi in this year. This requires government, private enterprises and charitable organizations to take action together to fund and support for fast R & D, large-scale production and drug delivery innovation activities.

Countries should also strengthen primary health care systems to monitor disease trends and issue early warnings, as Mr. Bill Gates points out in a signed article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The world also needs to invest in disease monitoring, including the establishment of a case database that can be accessed immediately.

Mark Susman reported AIDS reported in Johannesburg Star in 1991. Source: Gates Foundation official website Mark Susman 1991 AIDS reported in Johannesburg Star.Source: Gates Foundation official website

Working as a reporter for the Johannesburg Star was my first job in the media industry, and I’m proud of the AIDS story at the time, which I keep. I clearly remember that the topic of the article is “must deal with the ghost of AIDS.” However, for a long period of time (global), no action is taken during a long period of time. If we have committed the same mistake when responding to the epidemic of neoguanpi, it will be unforgivable. I am very fortunate to lead the Gates Foundation and use its financial, technical experience, expertise, and appeal to fight against the epidemic. We also urgently called on the world to work in hand to take urgent action for the spread of the epidemic in the early days.

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