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Washington (AFP) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged Wednesday to commit up to $100 million for the global response to the novel coronavirus epidemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives.
The funding will be used to strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts, the foundation said, including protecting at-risk populations and developing vaccines and diagnostics.
"Multilateral organizations, national governments, the private sector and philanthropies must work together to slow the pace of the outbreak, help countries protect their most vulnerable citizens and accelerate the development of the tools to bring this epidemic under control," said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman.
The amount includes $10 million previously pledged in late January.
The foundation said it would direct $20 million to organizations like the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection, the National Health Commission of China and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A further $20 million would be allocated to help public health authorities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, regions which have been disproportionately affected by recent epidemics like the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic of 2009.
The foundation also pledged up to $60 million to accelerate the discovery, development and testing of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for the virus.