Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and social media platform TikTok have donated a combined $20 million to a global health partnership that will deploy vaccines for the novel coronavirus in Africa after they are developed.
According to Reuters, Gates and TikTok each donated $10 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a private global health partnership that works to improve access to vaccines for people in low-income countries, to help fight the outbreak in Africa.
The alliance, which was founded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will reportedly use the funding to help with the distribution of vaccines for the coronavirus in Africa immediately after they are developed and licensed for use.
Seth Berkley, a chief executive with the private partnership, also told Reuters the funding will help curb “a potentially catastrophic impact on immunization programs across the developing world.”
The move by Gates and TikTok comes a month after Matshidiso Moeti, regional chief for the World Health Organization (WHO), said the continent had begun seeing an “extremely rapid evolution” following a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the region.
According the WHO’s regional office for Africa, the number of cases from the virus reported in the continent rose to more than 10,000 earlier this month.
Moeti said in a statement at the time that the virus “has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths, but to also unleash economic and social devastation.”
“This requires a decentralized response, which is tailored to the local context. Communities need to be empowered, and provincial and district levels of government need to ensure they have the resources and expertise to respond to outbreaks locally,” he continued.
However, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the continent still has a chance “to reduce and slow down” transmission of the disease that has spread rapidly across the world in recent months.
“All countries must rapidly accelerate and scale up a comprehensive response to the pandemic, including an appropriate combination of proven public health and physical distancing measures. Within that process, Member States should target effective control of the outbreak, but plan for the worst,” he said.
“Early isolation of all cases, including mild cases, is one of the key control measures, along with early detection, early treatment and contact tracing,” he added. “Timely and accurate epidemiological data is one of the most important tools to inform and drive the response.”