Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be contributing $25 million via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to research for therapies and medicine to treat COVID-19.
Zuckerberg’s contribution will go to funding the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this month with the Wellcome Trust as a partner. The initiative started with $125 million in seed funding at its launch on 9 March.
The goal of the project is to develop affordable treatments to COVID-19 that can be distributed at scale. The accelerator will evaluate new drugs as well as repurpose existing ones for the treatment of COVID-19.
Evaluating existing drugs is a particularly important part of the accelerator’s research, as they would have already gone through clinical safety trials and could be distributed more quickly.
‘If they’re effective, it will be much faster to make them available than it will be to develop and test a new vaccine – hopefully months rather than a year or more,’ wrote Zuckerberg in a Facebook announcement. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what the Therapeutics Accelerator discovers.’
In the long term, it is hoped the research from the Therapeutics Accelerator can be used to fight other viral pathogens.
Shortly after Zuckerberg announced the contribution to the Gates Foundation initiative, he made another funding pledge, committing $100 million to help news outlets, many of which are feeling the economic impact of the pandemic, even despite increased readership.
‘Right now journalists are working under very difficult conditions to keep their communities informed,’ wrote Zuckerberg. ‘Local news is especially hard hit, so we’re committing $25 million for emergency grant funding through the Facebook Journalism Project, and another $75 million in marketing spend to support journalists and news organizations covering the crisis.’