The richest man in China has donated 100 million yuan (£11 million) towards helping scientists develop a vaccine against the deadly strain of coronavirus.
Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, made the generous donation through his foundation after it was announced at least 133 people had died following the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
It’s reported 40% of the donation, around £4.4 million, will be split between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, where experts are desperately trying to create the inoculation.
The rest of the money will go towards supporting staff from research establishments across the country and around the world as the efforts to control and prevent the deadly virus continue.
Ma is reported to be worth $42.8billion (£32.9billion) and was dubbed the richest man in China in 2019, according to Forbes.
The 55-year-old’s foundation has vowed to offer all necessary AI computing power to research teams for no charge, to help tackle the disease.
Ma’s foundation said in a statement on Weibo:
Jack Ma Foundation will exhaust our abilities to provide more help to the development and growth of medical science.
It comes after Alibaba previously earmarked a further one billion yuan (£110 million) toward medical supplies for hospitals in the city of Wuhan and Hubei Province, on Sunday.
According to an expert from China’s National Health Commission, they are ‘very close’ to creating the coronavirus vaccine, however the whole process ‘will take time’.
Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and professor at Zhejiang University, told state media China News it would take around one month for scientists to lay the first vaccine sample, and another two weeks for specialists to inspect the sample and at least six weeks more for the government to approve the vaccine.
Meanwhile a 1,000-bed hospital has opened in Huanggang city, close to Wuhan, after less than a week of construction.
Today, January 29, Finland became the twentieth country outside of China to confirm a case of the killer virus, with 6,000 people believed to be infected worldwide.
It’s believed the virus can be spread through a simple cough or sneeze, however the majority of those infected remain in China.
While the origin of this deadly strain of coronavirus remains unknown, the first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
So far, investigators have revealed bats or snakes are the prime suspects for hosting the virus which was passed on to humans.