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Last Updated : Mar 10, 2020 02:11 PM IST | Source: Reuters

Gates, other charities pledge $125 million towards COVID-19 treatments

The effort, known as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, will focus on new and repurposed drugs that can be used right away to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus and possibly other viruses in the future.

Reuters
Representative image
Representative image

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and two other large charities on March 10 pledged up to $125 million to help speed the development of treatments for the fast-spreading coronavirus, which the World Health Organization said on Monday was nearing pandemic proportions.

The effort, known as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, will focus on new and repurposed drugs that can be used right away to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus and possibly other viruses in the future.

The money is intended to ensure that treatments for the virus will be available in poor countries and affordable for individuals.

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Currently, no antiviral drugs or other immune system treatments have been approved to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust medical charity are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million for initial projects.

The Gates Foundation‘s funding is part of its $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month.

"Viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly," Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.

"If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund research and development."

 
First Published on Mar 10, 2020 02:05 pm
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