In recent days, Bill Gates – the co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft – and Tim Cook – the current CEO of Apple – have announced far-reaching initiatives to support the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
In an interview with Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, Gates said that the foundation he and wife Melinda Gates co-chair will contribute billions of dollars to organizations that are developing vaccines for COVID-19. Much of this funding will go toward building factories for seven leading vaccine developers around the world. Because of the uncertainties of such work, however, Gates indicated that a significant proportion of the investment will be spent on efforts that result in dead-ends.
Founded in 1997, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted over $50 billion to initiatives addressing world health, hunger, poverty, and more. It currently has an endowment of over $40 billion. Previously, in March, the Foundation announced the creation of The COVID-19 Therapeautics Accelerator – a partnership with Wellcome and Mastercard to provide $125 million in funding to identify, assess, and scale-up effective treatments for the disease.
Gates, who has a net worth in the range of $100 billion, announced on March 13 that he had decided to step down from the boards of both Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus his energy on “global health and development, education, and […] climate change.”
Apple to Produce PPE
Meanwhile, Tim Cook took to Twitter on April 5 to announce steps that Apple Inc. will take to assist health workers treating COVID-19 patients around the world. He said that his company – which currently has a market cap in the range of $1 trillion – has already sourced and donated 20 million N95 face masks to organizations that need them. In yesterday’s video Tweet he said that Apple will begin manufacturing 1 million medical face shields per week.
… our focus is on unique ways Apple can help, meeting essential needs of caregivers urgently and at a scale the circumstances require.Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Apple has already made donations of more than $15 million “both to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic.” It is also matching employee donations two-to-one. In late March, the company partnered with the CDC, FEMA, and the White House to launch an online COVID-19 Screening Tool to help members of the public evaluate their own symptoms and exposure, and then determine the need for self-isolation or medical treatment.