The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm, has committed $25 million to a research fund designed to help identify and develop treatments for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it announced today.
CZI, managed by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, is donating to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which will help coordinate research efforts to identify new drugs and treatments for the illness. The Accelerator is already backed by $125 million in commitments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, health foundation Wellcome, and Mastercard’s Impact Fund, according a March 10th press release.
CZI says it will provide $20 million to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and make another $5 million available “based on future needs.” The Gates Foundation and Wellcome each have committed up to $50 million, while Mastercard’s Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million.
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, organizations in both the public and private sectors, and “global regulatory and policy-setting institutions” to coordinate research efforts, according to the release.
“We’re excited to partner with the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard to help the biomedical research community quickly identify, develop, and test treatments for COVID-19,” said Chan and Zuckerberg in a statement. “The Therapeutics Accelerator will enable researchers to quickly determine whether or not existing drugs have a potential benefit against COVID-19. We hope these coordinated efforts will help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as provide shared, reusable strategies to respond to future pandemics.”
CZI and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which researches ways to cure and manage diseases, have already been working to help increase the number of COVID-19 tests in the San Francisco Bay Area. CZI said last week it is aiming to help the University of California, San Francisco support at least 1,000 tests per day “in the coming days.”
The Gates Foundation is also working to increase testing, partnering with the University of Washington to offer at-home COVID-19 testing kits for people in the Seattle area. However, it’s not clear when that program will begin. The Gates Foundation’s commitment to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator comes in part from its up to $100 million commitment to COVID-19 response announced on February 5th.