The world’s richest people are being urged to urgently donate big chunks of their fortunes to the global effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, and help millions of people across the globe whose lives have been thrown into crisis by Covid-19.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an immediate $100m towards detection, isolation and vaccine development. Gates has said he is prepared to spend billions in the longer term to develop and produce a vaccine. “It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don’t get picked because something else is better,” Gates said on The Daily Show. “But a few billion in this, the situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars … being lost economically, it is worth it.”
Jack Dorsey pledged to donate $1bn (£800m) to fund coronavirus research to help “disarm this pandemic”. Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006 and went on to co-found payments company Square, is donating $1bn of Square shares to a charitable fund, called Start Small, to “fund global Covid-19 relief”. He said the donation was about “28% of my wealth”.
Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, has committed $30m to the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust’s joint research project, the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. Zuckerberg has an estimated $67bn fortune.
Jack Ma, China’s richest person, has pledged 100m yuan ($14.5m) to “support the development of a coronavirus vaccine”. Ma has an estimated $44bn fortune.
Hans Rausing, grandson of the Swedish founder of Tetra Pak, has donated £16.5m to charities and other groups supporting the NHS.
George Soros, the multibillionaire former hedge fund manager and philanthropist, has pledged €2m to support the “unprecedented emergency” in Milan and his native Hungary. “I was born in Budapest, in the middle of the Great Depression,” Soros said in a statement. “I lived through world war two, the Arrow Cross rule, and the siege in the city. I remember what it is like to live in extreme circumstances.”
Madonna has donated $1m to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help in the creation of a vaccine.
George and Amal Clooney have pledged $1m (£803,000) to six coronavirus causes including the NHS, relief charities in the Lombardy region of Italy and Lebanese food banks.