The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Tuesday that it will fund up to $120 million to increase access to an experimental COVID-19 drug for lower-income countries.
The Epoch Times reports that the Gates Foundation’s donation will go towards developing and manufacturing a generic antiviral medication, though the drug has yet to receive regulatory approval.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said: “Merck has taken important steps to make this drug available as a COVID-19 therapy, including negotiating licenses with generics manufacturers to increase supply. We are pleased to work alongside these efforts to ensure affordability and availability in lower-income countries.”
Launched in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic foundation in the United States. It has a global reach and reports investing approximately $1.9 billion to fight the pandemic since 2020.
This round of funding will go towards Merck’s drug molnupiravir, which is in phase 3 of its trials. Molnupiravir is a medication designed to fight mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, and it appears to have promise. Early analysis shows the drug can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for at-risk adults, according to a summary report released by Merck.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will evaluate the final test results, which have yet to be published, and consider the medication for approval.
Some experts have expressed concerns about the experimental drug, noting the risks involved in how molnupiravir attacks the virus.
Molnupiravir is said to embed itself in the virus’ genes, which induces a high number of mutations and ultimately defeats the virus, in a process known as lethal mutagenesis.
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