NEW YORK ─ The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Wednesday that Takeda Pharmaceutical will donate 500 million yen ($4.7 million) to support the agency's initiative to help countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which involves the supply of RT-PCR tests to laboratories around the world.
The financial contribution from the Tokyo-based biopharmaceutical firm will enable the IAEA to increase its emergency assistance to agency member states that are in need of quick and reliable diagnostic methods to contain the coronavirus, IAEA said.
IAEA had announced in early March that it would provide testing, biosafety equipment, expert advice, and technical guidance to countries requesting it. So far, 119 countries have sought the IAEA’s assistance in using real time RT-PCR to test for the virus. Sixteen countries have received ready-to-run packages ─ including RT-PCR machines, personal protective equipment, laboratory consumables, and diagnostic kits – and many more countries will receive them in the coming weeks, IAEA said.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that Takeda’s contribution will allow the IAEA to significantly ramp up its activities in dispatching more testing kits to countries in need.
Vienna, Austria-based IAEA had announced Monday that its member states have pledged more than €22 million ($23.9 million) in funding for its COVID-19 initiative. It said the funds will enable it to assist hundreds of laboratories around the world in the use of real time RT-PCR tests.
Several of the IAEA's member states have announced support for its COVID-19 initiative, including $11 million from the US; €4 million from Japan; CA$5 million from Canada; €2 million from Norway; €500,000 each from Germany, the Netherlands and the Russian Federation; €200,000 from Finland, and contributions from Australia and others. Further, China has announced in-kind support worth $2 million, IAEA said.
The support packages are being dispatched to countries in batches, considering current global supply market and transport limits, IAEA said. Around 20 RT-PCR machines have been delivered to end users so far. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Iran, Latvia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Thailand, and Togo are among the first to receive the equipment.
The financial commitment from Takeda represents one of the largest private-sector donations to IAEA, the agency said.