- The wealthiest people in the world are spending hundreds of millions to fight the novel coronavirus.
- Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, former hedge fund manager George Soros, and Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing have collectively pledged over $US1.2 billion towards various efforts to help alleviate the coronavirus outbreak.
- The largest single pledge came from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who is giving nearly a third of his net worth to coronavirus relief efforts.
- The novel coronavirus has infected over 1.4 million people and killed over 80,000, including over 12,000 reported deaths in the United States.
- Keep reading to learn more about the coronavirus-related donations made by billionaires, listed in the order they were announced.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma pledged 100 million yuan ($US14.5 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 organisations will receive $US5.8 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 $US2.15 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia to help fund the development of a vaccine, and sent shipments of face masks and testing kits to parts of the United States and Africa,Business Insider reported.
Bill and Melinda Gates pledged to donate $US100 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 $US10 million.
Bill Gates has long warned that the world is ill-equipped to manage a pandemic, Business Insider’s Aria Bendix reported. The WHO has yet to conclusively say that the novel coronavirus has reached the level of a pandemic, but Gates disagrees. “I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise,” Gates wrote in an op-ed for the New England Journal of Medicine February 28.
Gates outlined his suggestions for containing the crisis in the essay, including sending highly trained healthcare workers to low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Southern Asia, establishing an international database on information on the outbreak, and funding vaccine manufacturing facilities.
Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing, said he would donate HK$US100 million ($US13 million) to help medical workers in Wuhan on February 10.
Li’s foundation is also working to source medical supplies for health care workers in Wuhan and Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported.
Li said he planned to make his donation to the Red Cross Society of China, a government-organised non-government organisation (GONGO) with no connection to The American Red Cross, according to Bloomberg.
Fashion designer Giorgio Armani gave €1.25 million ($US1.43 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 more than 16,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest number worldwide, 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 were ordered closed in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Armani built a $US6.6 billion fortune from his eponymous fashion house, which also has accessories, cosmetics, real estate, restaurant, and hotel businesses, Forbes reported. Armani’s fashion group is now using its factories to manufacture medical overalls for healthcare workers.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged $US25 million to a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation program researching treatments for COVID-19 on March 27.
Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made the gift through their foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Business Insider reported. The gift, along with additional contributions from Mastercard and the non-profit Wellcome, will be used to fund Gates’ accelerator’s search for a COVID-19 treatment among new and existing drugs.
Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, donated $US66 million to coronavirus aid on March 30 after being slammed for ringing a bell from the balcony of his 27-story mansion to thank healthcare workers.
Mukesh Ambani plans to donate ₹500 crore ($US66.7 million) to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coronavirus emergency fund,Business Insider reported. The gift is in addition to the foundation’s previously announced work to build a hospital exclusively for coronavirus patients in Mumbai.
Ambani faced widespread criticism for his initial response to the virus, when his wife Nita Ambani shared a video of the billionaire ringing a bell from a glass-enclosed terrace of his mansion in Mumbai to thank front line workers for battling the virus on the streets below. At Modi’s request, people across India spent five minutes clapping and clanging household objects that night to express their gratitude for healthcare workers, The Hindustan Times reported.
At the same time, Ambani saw his fortune sliced nearly in half over coronavirus fears. His net worth fell by 41% to $US34.4 billion on March 19 alone as the virus’ spread across the globe sent markets into turmoil. Ambani is now worth an estimated $US39.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. His fortune comes primarily from his 42% stake in energy and telecommunications conglomerate Reliance Industries, according to Bloomberg.
Former hedge fund manager George Soros pledged €2 million ($US2.2 million) to two different European cities by March 31.
Half of the gift, which will be paid out through Soros’ Open Society Foundation, will go to help the municipal government of Soros’ native Budapest provide for the Hungarian capital’s elderly and homeless populations during what Soros called an “unprecedented emergency,” according to a statement emailed to Business Insider on March 30.
“I was born in Budapest, in the middle of the Great Depression, barely a decade after the Spanish Flu left thousands of dead in Budapest,” Soros said in a statement. “I lived through World War II, the Arrow Cross rule, and the siege in the city. I remember what it is like to live in extreme circumstances.”
The second half of the gift will be given to Milan to help the Italian city end and recover from its devastating coronavirus outbreak, the former hedge-fund manager announced in a statement emailed to Business Insider on March 31. Both gifts are part of Soros’ larger “series of interventions” in Europe’s coronavirus crisis, the 89-year-old billionaire’s son Alex Soros said in the statement.
After leaving Budapest as a teenager, Soros built an $US8.3 billion fortune running what was once the world’s largest hedge fund,Business Insider reported.
Twitter and Square cofounder Jack Dorsey pledged to donate $US1 billion to coronavirus relief efforts on April 7 — nearly a third of his net worth.
Dorsey, who is the CEO of both Twitter and Square, announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he will set up a new charitable organisation that will focus on helping those affected by the coronavirus.
After the pandemic, Dorsey’s new fund will shift its attention to funding girls’ health and education and universal basic income,Business Insider reported.
Before the gift, Dorsey had a net worth of $US3.6 billion, Forbes estimates.
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