Biopharmaceutical leader Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited has committed to donating 500 million yen (around €4.35 million) in support of a global initiative launched by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The financial contribution from one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms will enable the IAEA to increase its emergency assistance to Member States, which need quick and reliable diagnostic methods to contain the virus causing the potentially deadly disease.
This commitment is one of the largest ever private sector donations to the IAEA, which announced in early March it would provide testing and biosafety equipment to countries requesting it, as well as expert advice and technical guidance.
So far, 119 countries have sought the IAEA’s assistance in using a nuclear-derived technique known as real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR), which makes it possible to identify the virus accurately within hours. Sixteen countries have so far received ready-to-run packages – including RT-PCR machines, personal protective equipment, laboratory consumables and diagnostic kits – and many more will get them in the coming days and weeks.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Takeda’s contribution would allow the IAEA to significantly ramp up its activities in helping the world control the pandemic and dispatch more testing kits to countries in need. It adds to the more than €22 million in extrabudgetary funding that over ten Member States have already pledged for the IAEA’s COVID-19 assistance. It is the IAEA’s largest technical cooperation project – both in terms of the amount of funding and the number of beneficiary countries – since the Vienna-based organization was founded in 1957.
Building partnerships with the private sector is a key priority for the IAEA as it strives to meet growing Member State demand for its work in support of peace and development around the world, Mr Grossi said.
“The IAEA’s technical assistance plays a vital role in countries’ efforts to fight this disease. We can only implement such a large project thanks to generous extrabudgetary and other voluntary contributions,” he said. “The funds we receive from Takeda and our other partners will help save many lives around the world.”
“As part of our longstanding commitment to solve healthcare issues for people around the world, Takeda is proud to partner with the IAEA on this essential effort at the front lines of COVID-19,” said Takako Ohyabu, Chief Global Corporate Affairs Officer at Takeda. “We look forward to supporting the IAEA’s work to continue providing emergency assistance and help prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus as we strive to secure better health and a brighter future for people worldwide.”
Founded in 1781 in Japan, Takeda is a global, values-based, and R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader with a presence in approximately 80 countries and regions committed to bringing better health and a brighter future to patients by translating science into highly-innovative medicines.
The IAEA is part of the COVID-19 Crisis Management Team, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and comprised of 14 United Nations entities.
The IAEA’s assistance is delivered through its technical cooperation programme, which supports the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology in areas such as human and animal health. In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the IAEA has helped countries in the last decade with quick detection tests to fight epidemics caused by animal to human diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola and Zika, also known as zoonotic diseases.
“I firmly believe that together we will overcome this pandemic,” Mr Grossi said. “I also believe that this is not the last time that we will face the consequences of zoonotic diseases, which are occurring more frequently. We need to be better prepared to deal with such challenges in the future.”