Jan 29, 2020, 01:29pm

Coronavirus: Bill Gates, Apple And Jack Ma Donate Millions To Fight Outbreak

Giacomo Tognini Forbes Staff

Customers make orders in a McDonald's in Hong Kong, wearing face masks a preventative measure ... [+]

Amid a surge in the number of coronavirus cases — the total surpassed 6,000 on Wednesday — billionaires and multinationals in China, the U.S. and elsewhere are opening their wallets to help authorities fight back against the outbreak.

The donations have poured in from both deep-pocketed companies and wealthy individuals around the world. In the United States, Bill Gates’ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Sunday it would commit $10 million to aid first responders in China and Africa, including $5 million for international cooperation, treatment and vaccine development.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the second-richest person in China, reportedly pledged $14 million (100 million yuan) to efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine through his Jack Ma Foundation.

Alibaba announced last Saturday that it would establish a $144 million (1 billion yuan) fund to help hospitals buy sorely needed medical supplies in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the epidemic first emerged.

Chinese tech giants Baidu, Tencent, Huawei and ByteDance — run by billionaires Robin Li, Ma Huateng, Ren Zhengfei and Zhang Yiming, respectively — have also pitched in to combat the coronavirus, according to Chinese press reports. Baidu, Tencent and ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, together pledged $115 million (800 million yuan) to research new treatments and help authorities in the most affected areas, while Huawei contributed to the construction of Huoshenshan Hospital, a new emergency facility that’s being built in Wuhan.

Bill Gates and Alibaba's Jack Ma at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China in ... [+]

The fashion industry is also joining the fight, with heavy-hitters LVMH, headed by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the world’s third richest person, and luxury firm Kering, founded by French billionaire Francois Pinault, reportedly donating $2.3 million and $1 million respectively. “Our thoughts are with the many impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and therefore we have decided to donate the funds as an immediate contribution to assist,” Pinault said in a statement to the fashion journal WWD.

In China, sportswear brand Anta Sports, run by Chinese billionaire Ding Shizhong, reportedly pledged $1.4 million (10 million yuan) to the Chinese Charity Federation, which is helping deliver supplies to healthcare workers in the hard-hit province of Hubei.

Large multinationals in the U.S. and Europe — including Microsoft, Dell, L’Oreal and Cargill — have collectively donated roughly $1.4 million (10 million yuan) to the Chinese Red Cross and authorities in Hubei province battling the epidemic. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to announce that the iPhone maker would also contribute to efforts on the ground.

“As people in China and around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year, we send our love and support to the many impacted by the Coronavirus,” Cook wrote. “Apple will be donating to groups on the ground helping support all of those affected.”

The spread of the virus has spurred several airlines to cancel flights to China. Starbucks, McDonald’s and Ikea decided to shutter hundreds of stores across the country. The ongoing outbreak hit global markets and caused travel and casino stocks to plunge earlier this week. According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, there have been almost 6,000 confirmed cases in China out of 6,065 globally. Five cases have been reported in the United States.