Amidst the growing spread of the novel coronavirus, we have been tracking the pandemic’s billionaire reactions. Some of the richest in the world from Microsoft to Facebook are pledging to support countries that have been hit hardest by the illness.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the second-richest person in the world, has announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will commit $100 million to help detect, isolate and treat the virus globally. Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, the second richest man in China, pledged from his foundation $14 million to help develop a coronavirus vaccine and said he would donate 500,000 test kits and one million face masks to the affected countries.
“We know humanity’s battle with disease is a long journey, This money will support numerous efforts in medical science, which will help prevent disease”, said Jack Ma.
The first shipment of masks and coronavirus test kits to the US is taking off from Shanghai. All the best to our friends in America. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/LTn26gvlOl
— Jack Ma (@JackMa) March 16, 2020
The donations came in the midst of a stock market crash that, on February 28 alone, cost the 500 richest people in the world more than $100 billion. In the time since, the chaos has continued.
Microsoft magnate, Gates outlined his ideas for mitigating the crisis in the essay, including sending highly skilled healthcare workers to low-and middle-income countries in Africa and South Asia, creating an international database on outbreak information, and supporting facilities for vaccine manufacturing.
Also on Tuesday, Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, the Chan Zuckerberg Project and its related CZI Biohub, announced that they will buy two clinical diagnostic machines to quadruple the capacity to track and treat potential cases of disease in the San Francisco Bay Area.
At a time when tech billionaires are typically on the defensive the coronavirus provides a legitimate opportunity for this class of philanthropists to shift the narrative.