Partners in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative spearheaded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard in fight against coronavirus have pledged a $20 million grant in the effort to find treatment to the pandemic that has affected nearly a million people globally.
The funding will be open, but not limited to three institutions—the University of Washington, University of Oxford, and La Jolla Institute for Immunology—to fund clinical trials in order to identify highly potent immunotherapy for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The universities will conduct a multi-site clinical trials and investigation of two well-established drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine- that have known antiviral properties.
These drugs have been used to treat malaria and a variety of rheumatological conditions for more than 50 years.
Selected participants enrollment will begin in April, and results will be available in late 2020.
Donors said that the initial investments through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will bring rigor to the study of these potential solutions and the way forward will be informed by sound science and shared data, in which African scientists will be involved.
“These grants to leading institutions in their fields will advance our understanding of how existing drugs and antibodies can contribute to addressing the pandemic we’re facing around the world,” said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this Wednesday.
The funding follows a commitment by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative of $25million and the U.K. government committing £40 million last week, to the same cause.
Suzman said the additional funds will allow the Accelerator to continue making grants to study repurposed drugs and investigate biological compounds for activity against COVID-19.
More funding is needed to move promising therapies through development and scale-up and Mastercard said there is need for participation of additional organizations that can contribute the resources needed to help bring an end to this crisis.
“In order to provide therapeutic solutions to this global pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, we need to speed up the research and development process through a collaborative funding effort by the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and governments,” said Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard.
In the meantime, back in Africa, The African Development Bank has approved $2 million that will be used to equip African countries to prevent, rapidly detect, investigate, contain and manage detected cases of COVID-19.
The funding, to be used in 41 African AfDB member countries, was approved Wednesday by the AfDB Board as an emergency assistance for the World Health Organization (WHO) to reinforce its capacity to help African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impacts.