Gates, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard commit $125M to COVID-19 therapies

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard Tuesday announced that they will team up to invest up to $125 million to fund a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to speed the development of therapies for the coronavirus.

The accelerator will focus on short-term solutions by identifying opportunities to repurpose agents that could be deployed rapidly, and on longer-term approaches such as developing new investigational drugs and antibody-based therapies.

The accelerator will solicit candidates with known toxicity profiles from biopharmaceutical companies. Screening will be conducted at the Rega Institute for Medical Research in Leuven, Belgium.

“The biotech and pharmaceutical industries will be critical partners, bringing their compound libraries and clinical data to the collaboration and lending commercialization and other expertise that will be required to scale up successful drugs and monoclonal antibodies,” the Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard said. “In parallel to the development of the COVID-19 drug pipeline, the Accelerator will work with regulators to align criteria and develop manufacturing capacity with industry.”

In addition to funding, the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust will provide technical expertise to the accelerator.

Mastercard is contributing through its Mastercard Impact Fund, a non-profit the company created in 2018. Mastercard has pledged 20% of its savings from U.S. and European tax reforms to the fund, which will make up to $500 million in charitable grants.

Mastercard hopes to attract other corporations to invest in the accelerator.

“Our participating in this is to be supportive of it and ideally to crowd-in other companies and entities that care about health and returning the economy to stable and inclusive growth,” Michael Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard, told BioCentury.

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