Microsoft founder Bill Gates expects his foundation to work “almost entirely” on the coronavirus pandemic in the near future, the Financial Times reported. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a $40 billion endowment, and has worked on HIV and malaria and polio eradication. But Gates said the foundation has shifted most of that focus to work on the coronavirus.
“This has the foundation’s total attention,” Gates told the FT. “Even our non-health related work, like higher education and K-12 [schools], is completely switched around to look at how you facilitate online learning.”
The Gates Foundation already has pledged a total of $250 million “to support development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines; help strengthen African and South Asian health systems; and help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the virus.” The foundation is working with the World Health Organization and other health organizations around the world.
“This emergency has distracted a lot of critical work in many, many areas,” Gates said in the FT interview. “Fewer people able to show up for routine immunization or supply chains for immunization not working well, that’s hundreds of thousands of deaths right there. If we can’t keep getting malaria treatments out effectively, that’s a huge rebound in malaria.”
Earlier this month, Gates criticized President Trump’s plan to suspend funding for the WHO.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
He said he believes the Trump administration will ultimately decide that WHO “probably should get more money, not less money.”
In 2015, Gates warned during a TED Talk that the world was not ready for a global pandemic.
Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000, and left his full-time role at Microsoft in 2008 to focus on the foundation work. Oddly, during the pandemic Gates has become the top target of coronavirus misinformation.
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