When the global lockdowns were first initiated, literally everybody began watching the movie, Contagion. The movie is about an American businesswoman (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) who unwittingly catches a deadly disease and unknowingly spreads it, leading to a global pandemic. And it all started with a virus from a bat.
However, while making the film, Jeff Skoll’s film company Participant Media had ulterior motives – to build support for funding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also, hopefully, warn the world about how fucked up it would be for all of us in the wake of a global pandemic.
Looks like Skoll was right.
Now, according to Forbes, the billionaire has been funding pandemic preparedness and prevention since 2009 through the Skoll Global Threats Fund, to which he pledged $100 million.
“I don’t see this as a money squirt,” Skoll told the publication. “This is a resource allocation to an area we know well. And this is an emergency.”
Skoll and team got wind of the novel coronavirus way back in December last year. “We had colleagues on the ground in Wuhan. We had an idea that a zoonotic disease had jumped to humans,” he says.
As early as February, Skoll and the team made their first COVID-19 related grant worth $3 million to the African Field Epidemiology Network, a group working with the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
In March, Skoll made a grant to the Southern African Center for Infectious Disease Surveillance Foundation (SACIDS) and a similar group in East Africa, reports Forbes.
Besides that, Skoll’s Ending Pandemics has partnered with governments and public health authorities in 36 countries — 11 of which have surveillance systems tracking Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, reports the website.
“There are so many zoonotic viruses that jump over from animals to humans. Most of them peter out and turn into something less lethal. I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see any terrible new pandemic any time soon,” says Skoll. “If anything, the world is on watch now.”