Coronavirus: Billionaire Gates's foundation to focus solely on virus

Bill Gates said the pandemic could cost the global economy tens of trillions of dollars. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Billionaire Bill Gates's foundation will focus all of its resources on fighting the coronavirus, according to the Financial Times.

The philanthropist and founder of Microsoft Corp said that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment exceeding US$40 billion (S$56.99 billion), will give "total attention" to the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 and is roiling economies around the world, he said in an interview with the newspaper.

"You're going to have economies with greatly reduced activity levels for years," Mr Gates said.

The pandemic could cost the global economy "tens of trillions of dollars", he said in the interview.

The foundation has contributed US$250 million to help counter the coronavirus and is re-purposing units dedicated to fighting other diseases to join in the battle against the pandemic.

"We've taken an organisation that was focused on HIV and malaria and polio eradication, and almost entirely shifted it to work on this," he told the FT.

Mr Gates also defended the World Health Organisation against accusations from US President Donald Trump that the body had mishandled the virus response.

"WHO is clearly very, very important and should actually get extra support to perform their role during this epidemic," Mr Gates said.

He said he doesn't believe Mr Trump will follow through on his threat to withdraw funding for the WHO.

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