Zuckerberg’s foundation pledges $25m for research on COVID-19 treatments

The donation is among the biggest single grants to an outside organization ever given by CZI

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, owned by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, is providing funds to explore new possible antiviral drugs that could protect people from COVID-19. Photo: Twitter

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic arm of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, has announced plans to team up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to donate USD 25 million to a research fund exploring possible COVID-19 treatments.

“I’m really proud to share that (The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is) going to be joining Gates and others to put together something they’re calling the therapeutics accelerator to fight coronavirus,” Chan told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King.

Chan told King that their goal is “to fund a group to screen all the drugs that we know have potential effects against coronavirus.”

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Zuckerberg said one drug can often be used to treat multiple diseases.

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“You can basically take all those drugs that have already been screened as safe and test them to see if they might also have a positive impact for either preventing the coronavirus or reducing the symptoms and making it less damaging,” he said.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is sinking the cash into an effort, run by Zuckerberg’s mentor Bill Gates, that is exploring new possible antiviral drugs that could protect people from the disease.

The donation is among the biggest single grants to an outside organization ever given by CZI, established in 2015.

CZI’s gift is the second biggest tech philanthropy donation for the coronavirus that has been publicly unveiled, falling short of only the Gates Foundation’s donation to the same therapeutics fund.

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The contribution from Zuckerberg and his wife comes after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator earlier in March. Mastercard and charity foundation Wellcome are also partnering with Bill & Melinda Gates as part of the initiative, which started with USD 125 million in seed funding at its launch.

The goal of the project is to develop affordable treatments to COVID-19 that can be distributed at scale.

The accelerator will evaluate new and repurpose existing drugs to for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and hopes to use its research to fight other viral pathogens in the long term as well. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will also be working with the World Health Organization on the project.

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