Bill Gates talking with health professionals.
Melanie French

Melanie French

Melanie French is the senior marketing and communications manager at Global Impact. In this role, Melanie contributes to the organization’s marketing efforts for workplace giving and employee engagement. More importantly, she attempts to keep commas in place and capitalization under control, serving as lead writer and editor for the organization. Melanie currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband, daughter and scruffy dog. Although she loves to travel and experience new cultures (her first job out of college was as a flight attendant!), Melanie now spends most of her time drinking lukewarm coffee and chasing her toddler – which is why she needs coffee in the first place … and also why it is lukewarm. 

By
Melanie French
Mar 30, 2020
Photo Credit
Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Like many of us, my family is attempting to adjust to a new normal – working from home with a spouse, children, and pets; wondering when we might be able to buy toilet paper or hand sanitizer; buying groceries to prepare for most or all meals at home; and otherwise aiming to reduce or completely prevent in-person contact with others. Though it has been a major disruption, I can’t help but think about those who have different concerns that make mine feel like luxuries. 

Consider families who were forced to leave their homes due to conflict or other disasters. They may be living in temporary housing communities where gathering food, obtaining supplies and even limiting contact with others are out of their control. Even here in the U.S., individuals are losing their jobs, and many businesses are worried about whether they’ll be able to pay bills, make payroll or even survive this situation.

When my mind wanders down that path, I have to remind myself that it’s not all gloom and doom. For me personally, I am looking for the silver lining, such as the opportunity to practice patience with others and improve communication with my family. My boss and co-workers have shown me such grace, understanding that I have a very active toddler at home who is vying for my attention just as much as (or more than) my inbox. I’ve witnessed friends, family and neighbors come together (virtually!!) to support each other in many ways. And beyond my own circle, there are many individuals, nonprofits, corporations and governments working tirelessly to mitigate the outbreak, both here at home and abroad. 

One of those beacons of hope shines brightly from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates Philanthropy Partners (GPP), the nonprofit that allows donors to align their giving with the Gates Foundation’s work. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s latest endeavor is to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic, with $100 million committed for work on COVID-19 globally and another $5 million to support efforts specific to the greater Seattle area, where their organization is headquartered.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has assembled a task force to develop their COVID-19 response. Drawing on areas of expertise throughout the organization from communications to public health, the team determined three objectives to mitigate the speed of the outbreak: 

  • Accelerate detection and containment.
  • Protect the most vulnerable.
  • Develop medical technologies to support a sustainable response.

In order to tackle these goals, the team designated four response pillars where they will focus their attention and resources:

  • Diagnose: Design tools for early identification and solutions to help mitigate the spread of the disease. This includes the test itself, as well as getting testing tools into the right hands and ensuring that laboratories have the capacity for increased diagnostics. The Gates Foundation is supporting testing operations in the United States, Africa, China and South Asia.  
  • Treat: Develop antiviral and other treatments for those who have been diagnosed. When a new virus emerges, a phase of research and development takes place to determine whether an existing medicine can be used as treatment before new medications are also tested. This process can be very costly, ranging from $200 million to more than $1 billion. 
  • Support: Help vulnerable countries in Africa and South Asia prepare to withstand the pandemic by supporting regional leadership. To assist with managing the outbreak, treating patients and continuing regular health care operations, the Gates Foundation is offering guidance, training and resources to regional offices for the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others.
  • Vaccinate: Accelerate the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine for future protection. Just as with antiviral and other treatments, developing a vaccine for new diseases is a lengthy and expensive process. Vaccines are vital to boosting immunities within a community. As a supporter of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Gates Foundation is helping to fast track research funding to discover a vaccine for COVID-19. 

While those may seem like lofty goals, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a proven record in many areas, including global health. And Gates Philanthropy Partners gives each of us a chance to be part of this life changing work. Learn more about the Gates Foundation’s response to COVID-19. And if you feel inspired by their innovation and generosity, support their work and other nonprofits responding to COVID-19 around the world with a contribution to Global Impact’s Coronavirus Outbreak Fund

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