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US companies pitch in to fight coronavirus

By Hong Xiao in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-01-30 14:42
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Medical materials are seen at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Jan 28, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

As China grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, some US companies have offered a helping hand.

Large multinationals with operations in China have collectively donated roughly $1.4 million in cash and items to the Chinese Red Cross and authorities in Hubei province battling the epidemic, Forbes reported Wednesday.

Microsoft China announced Sunday it would donate 1 million yuan ($145,000) to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation for relief efforts.

The company said it would also start to mobilize employees to donate, and cooperate with partners to continue to provide relevant departments with cloud computing, data analysis and artificial intelligence technology support.

Agribusiness company Cargill committed 2 million yuan ($289,000) to China’s Red Cross to support the construction of Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital, an emergency specialty field hospital currently under rapid construction in response to epidemic.

In addition, the Minnesota-based company said it would also donate 1 million yuan worth of protective materials to help address a severe shortage of such items in China.

Intel announced Wednesday it would donate $1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The donation will support the Red Cross’ work in providing necessary medical supplies and treating infected patients.

Computer maker Dell committed to 2 million yuan donation on Monday. On Lunar New Year’s Eve (Jan 24), employees of Dell China donated 300,000 yuan collectively in just three hours.

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted to Twitter on Saturday that the iPhone maker would send its "love and support" to everyone impacted by the coronavirus.
According to Cook, Apple will be donating to "groups on the ground helping support all of those affected".

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Sunday that it would commit $10 million to help first responders in China and Africa, including $5 million for international cooperation, treatment and vaccine development.

Qualcomm announced on its LinkedIn page that it will donate 7 million yuan ($1 million) to relief agencies in China in support of efforts against the virus.
The San Diego, California-based semiconductor and telecom equipment company posted that "Our thoughts go out to all those affected."

To help stay ahead of a potential pandemic, Johnson & Johnson initiated vaccine development and will provide supplies of antiviral medicines to China for investigational use.

J&J announced Wednesday that "it is mobilizing resources to launch a multi-pronged response" to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
The company has initiated efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine candidate and broadly collaborate with others to screen a library of antiviral therapies, according to a press release.

"The company has a long-standing commitment to fight emerging epidemics," said Paul Stoffels, vice-chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at J&J said in a news release.

"Our experience in helping to address epidemics, coupled with our expertise in respiratory illnesses, uniquely positions us to address the latest coronavirus outbreak," Stoffels said.

J&J also is donating 300 boxes of its HIV medication Prezcobix to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University for use in research to support efforts in finding a solution against the coronavirus.

Prezcobix is a prescription medicine licensed in many countries, including China, for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). It has not been proven safe and effective for the treatment of 2019-nCoV, and further investigations are required.

Other drugmakers such as AbbVie are racing to add more potential weapons to the arsenal. The Illinois-based biopharmaceutical company announced last Friday that it is donating more than $1 million worth of Aluvia, an HIV drug, to help combat the coronavirus outbreak in China.

China’s National Health Commission earlier suggested Aluvia, a pill containing lopinavir and ritonavir, as one of two possible treatments for the symptoms of the virus in the absence of effective antiviral medications. The other part is nebulized alpha-interferon, Reuters reported.

As the donations from the US continue to rise, "I think we all realize potentially this outbreak is not limited to Wuhan, Hubei or China," said Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in Washington representing more than 200 American companies doing business with China.

He told China Daily that many US companies were concerned about the epidemic because many of them are connected to some degree with Wuhan, a manufacturing hub and the capital of Hubei province, where the outbreak started.

"Never in world history did I know of so many people being quarantined. This is a hard job," Allen said.

Allen said the council is now working with the Chinese embassy and the Red Cross in China for possible further help.

"If we can work together on it to control it earlier, the cost will be lower. But if we can’t, the cost could be much, much, much higher," he said.

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