Avast provides technical expertise and support for front line workers; $25 million donated by the Avast Foundation to research initiatives to defeat COVID-19
Contributions to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors, and to CEPI will help accelerate treatments, and the containment of the disease through vaccines.
Avast has always been driven by a mission to keep people safe, and we are deeply concerned about the escalation of the global COVID-19 health crisis. Over the last few months, our Avast colleagues worldwide have been volunteering their time and technical skills to support local community relief efforts and the Avast Foundation has donated funds to a number of important relief causes. And while I’m hugely grateful for these contributions and the enthusiasm and passion they are demonstrating, we felt that there was more that Avast could do to help.
I think most of us are now feeling the immediate effects of this crisis with social distancing and lockdown disruptions, but the global long-term impact on our healthcare and social system -- and our entire economy -- cannot yet be measured. On one hand, people on the front lines continue risking their health to keep our world moving and to save the lives of others, so immediate relief programs remain critical. On the other hand, as the pandemic persists and the knock-on effects on our society continue to develop, longer-term thinking is absolutely essential.
And it was exactly this realization that has directed our steps when thinking how we could help further. As a tech company, we are naturally drawn to looking at initiatives where research and innovation can drive real impact. We believe that a rigorous, scientific approach provides the best exit strategy for this crisis and only a prudent, systematic and well-funded approach to testing, treatment and vaccine development will lead to the minimization of lockdowns and disruptions, and ultimately, save lives.
After a careful analysis of existing programs and initiatives committed to COVID-19, we were encouraged to see that we’re not the only ones thinking this way. Namely, we found that the Wellcome-coordinated COVID-Zero Coalition was very aligned with our vision and to that end, we have decided to join it and support its strategic focus.
The Coalition is focused on raising funds to enable COVID-19 response through the pursuit of testing and treatments, and for preventing the spread of the virus through vaccine development. That is a very bold and compelling program which is estimated to require at least $8 billion in funding just in its first stage. We are proud and honored that the Avast Foundation is donating $20 million to help accelerate its progress.
More specifically, we are contributing to two research and development initiatives referenced in the Coalition’s call to action: the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator for development of testing and treatments, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for the development of vaccines. There is currently no approved treatment for COVID-19.
Of the total donation amount, the Avast Foundation is donating $12 million to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, to accelerate the development of rapid testing and treatments. I am personally vested in this initiative, and am honored to take up an active role on the Foundation’s funder’s board for Avast to provide whatever support we can.
The remaining $8 million will go to CEPI, the world’s leading organization in vaccine research and development for pandemics. We were blown away by CEPI’s approach to parallelize the development of the vaccine with 9 different tracks to date – a very costly approach, but one that maximizes the odds of finding the vaccine in the shortest possible time. CEPI’s ambition is to develop a safe, effective, and globally accessible COVID-19 vaccine within an accelerated 12-18 month timeline.
We are keen to follow the progress of both of these organizations over the next few months; they offer fresh hope and we are confident in their discovery of an effective treatment.
In addition to that, the Avast Foundation is committing $5 million to further COVID-19 response initiatives. These include our ongoing support for the Folding@home’s supercomputing program which seeks to find a cure for the virus, and our contribution in the development and production of a new type of lung ventilators. The current list of our COVID-19 related initiatives can be found on our Response page.
We are all really excited to actively join the fight and devote our resources to defeat this nasty virus. While the situation is severe, it is wonderful to see people working together so well, and we are hopeful that our steps will also motivate others to support game-changing initiatives such as these. What I can say is that this is just the start of our involvement in managing this crisis and you will hear more from us in this regard soon.
I wish you all good health and stay strong. Together, we can do it!