Billionaires from Bill Gates to Jack Ma are donating millions to help alleviate the coronavirus crisis
Billionaires are spending millions to fight the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 110,000 people and killed nearly 3,900 globally, including 22 reported deaths in the United States.
However the gifts, which total $129.65 million thus far according to Business Insider's calculations, may not be doing much to help those already suffering from the growing global health crisis. Of the portion of the donations that are designated to help those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, some are going to organizations designated by the Chinese government to handle the crisis, Fortune's Eamon Barrett reported. However, medical workers throughout Wuhan are complaining on social media of not receiving any aid from these groups, according to Fortune.
The donations came amid a stock market correction that cost the world's 500 wealthiest people more than $100 billion on February 28 alone. The turbulence has continued in the time since. The S&P 500 plummeted 7% immediately after trading began Monday, prompting the first market-wide trading halt since the financial crisis.
Keep reading to learn more about the coronavirus-related donations made by billionaires, in the order they were announced.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma pledged 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) to "support the development of a coronavirus vaccine" on January 30.
China's richest man announced the donation on Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo, Business Insider reported. Two Chinese government research organizations will receive $5.8 million of the gift to work on creating a vaccine, according to Axios.
"We know that the battle between humanity and disease is a long journey," Ma's foundation said a post on its Weibo account. "This money will help various medical research efforts and help disease prevention."
Ma later donated an additional $2.15 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia, to help fund the development of a vaccine, Fox Business reported.
Bill and Melinda Gates pledged to donate $100 million through their foundation on February 5 to treat what he's calling a "once-in-a-century pathogen."
The Gates' pledge will be used to support treatment efforts across the globe, build infrastructure to treat patients in Africa and Southern Asia, and fund the development of a vaccine, the couple's foundation said in a press release. They previously pledged to donate $10 million.
Bill Gates has long warned that the world is ill-equipped to manage a pandemic, Business Insider's Aria Bendix reported. The WHO has yet to conclusively say that the novel coronavirus has reached the level of a pandemic, but Gates disagrees. "I hope it's not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise," Gates wrote in an op-ed for the New England Journal of Medicine February 28.
Gates outlined his suggestions for containing the crisis in the essay, including sending highly trained healthcare workers to low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Southern Asia, establishing an international database on information on the outbreak, and funding vaccine manufacturing facilities.
Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-Shing, said he would donate HK$100 million ($13 million) to help medical workers in Wuhan on February 10.
Li's foundation is also working to source medical supplies for health care workers in Wuhan and Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported.
Li plans to make his donation to the Red Cross Society of China, a government-organized non-government organization (GONGO) with no connection to The American Red Cross, according to Bloomberg. Fortune reported that health care workers in Wuhan, including at one of the temporary hospitals built in eight days, reported not having received any help from The Wuhan Red Cross, a subsidiary of the Red Cross of China, despite an outpouring of donations to the group.
Fashion designer Giorgio Armani gave €1.25 million ($1.43 million) to help fight the outbreak in Italy on March 8.
The 85-year-old billionaire's gift will go to two hospitals and a research institute in Milan and another in Rome, Women's Wear Daily reported.
Italy has reported 366 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest number outside China, Business Insider reported. The Lombardy region in the north of the country has been placed on lockdown and public places such as schools, gyms, and museums across the country have been closed until April 3 in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Armani built a $6.6 billion fortune from his eponymous fashion house, which also has accessories, cosmetics, real estate, restaurant, and hotel businesses, Forbes reported.