Gates Foundation Places $100m into Battling COVID-19 Including University of Leuven Virologist

Gates Foundation Places $100m into Battling COVID-19 Including University of Leuven Virologist

Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged $100 million to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. This effort involves capital infusion to test 15,000 molecules as a potential cure for the coronavirus at the University of Leuven laboratory of Johan Neyts.


There is no cure for the coronavirus. Recently in China, one medicine has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration. Called favilavir, the drug was developed by Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company. Apparently, Zhang Xinmin, with the China National Center for Biotechnology Department, reported the drug demonstrated an encouraging profile while exhibiting mild adverse reactions in coronavirus patients in clinical trials conducted in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Worldwide, there are a dozen drugs in the pipeline to prevent COVID-19

15,000 Molecules to be Tested in Belgium

Back to Mr. and Mrs. Gates, the billionaires seek to have 15,000 medicinal molecules tested at a leading laboratory in Leuven, Belgium. Shipped by the Scripps Research Institute in California, these molecules all have promising ingredients in different types of antiviral treatments. The analysis will be led by Professor Johan Neyts, who noted they will be tested to determine if they inhibit or destroy the novel coronavirus.

Lead Investigator

Professor Johan Neyts works out of the University of Leuven. His research has focused on the development of novel antiviral strategies against a number of viruses, including picornaviruses, flaviviruses and HCV. His laboratory is well known as a center of expertise with respect to the development of small animal models for flavivirus infections and with the molecular virology of flavivirus. His team discovered together with Debiopharm (Lausanne) the anti-HCV activity of Debio-025, a compound which is now in clinical development by Novartis. His lab has also developed intellectual property licensed by Gilead.