Bill Gates is pouring millions of dollars of his vast fortune into fighting coronavirus in Africa.
The Microsoft CEO and philanthropist joined TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform popular with Generation Z, to donate $20 million to help distribute a vaccine on the continent, The Hill reported.
Partnership to fight COVID-19 in Africa
Gates donated $10 million on Wednesday to GAVI, a public-private partnership that seeks to make vaccines available to poor countries. TikTok also donated $10 million to the foundation, which will go towards helping to distribute vaccines in Africa — when, and if, one is ever developed and approved.
GAVI Chief Executive Seth Berkley said that the funding would also help prevent “a potentially catastrophic impact on immunization programs across the developing world,” according to The Hill.
The foundation’s partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and UNICEF, Reuters reported. The WHO has been in hot water recently over its alleged role in covering up the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Gates has been a prominent voice in philanthropic efforts to fight the virus, and he has vowed to spend — and possibly blow away — billions of dollars on developing a vaccine. The billionaire has already donated millions through his foundation, The Hill reported, and he told the Financial Times that his philanthropic arm will be intently focused on battling the virus, according to the New York Post.
“This has the foundation’s total attention,” Gates said. “Even our non-health-related work, like higher education and K-12, is completely switched around to look at how you facilitate online learning.”
Gates defends China
Gates has come under fire recently for defending China’s response to the pandemic and slamming President Trump’s decision to cut funding to the WHO, according to Business Insider. The billionaire also called controversy over China’s role in the outbreak a “distraction,” the New York Post reported.
“China did a lot of things right at the beginning, like any country where a virus first shows up,” Gates said. “They can look back and say where they missed some things.”
The WHO, with which Gates is partnered with through GAVI, has come under scrutiny for playing nice with China throughout the course of the outbreak. Republicans have said that the organization helped China facilitate a cover-up that left the world exposed, but Democrats have pushed back on criticism of the group.
TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, and it has been called a national security threat by U.S. officials and lawmakers, according to The New York Times. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who has called for China to pay reparations for the coronavirus, has introduced legislation to ban the use of TikTok on federal government devices.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that a vaccine for the coronavirus could come sooner than expected, perhaps by January of 2021, according to NPR.