By Ashley Moss
To combat the growing disparities among Black Americans for the new coronavirus, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which offers health and education opportunities, said it will provide $15 million to 10 HBCUs for resources for COVID testing.
“These grants provide the testing hubs funding for additional medical technical staff for specimen analysis, lab equipment, supplies, and technology,” said Allan Golston, President of U.S. Programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Investing in these supports will not only leave an enduring laboratory capacity beyond COVID-19, it will also increase the numbers and types of tests, improve turnaround times for results, and ultimately meet the rise in demand for local community testing—something HBCU leaders have expressed a strong desire to be able to deliver
“We must do what we can to make sure this public health crisis does not become an opportunity crisis.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be infected and die from the coronavirus as whites. Data also showed that infections among adults aged 18 to 22 increased 55 percent between August and September 2020.
Thermo Fisher, which serves medical providers and academia, is also donating test kits and related supplies, and will also establish a long-term pipeline with HBCU graduates for employment following graduation.
“We have committed to hiring 500 HBCU interns and graduates during the next three years, facilitating a promising career path for professionals of color,” read a statement from Thermo Fisher.
Participating member universities will obtain samples on their campuses that will then be shipped to their assigned testing center. The company’s initiative will also provide technical support to colleges to establish or build labs to process their own COVID-19 tests regularly.
The first wave of the Gates Foundation’s investment included diagnostic testing hubs at the following institutions:
Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, FL
Hampton University – Hampton, VA
Howard University– Washington, DC
Meharry Medical College – Nashville, TN
Morehouse School of Medicine – Atlanta, GA
Xavier University of Louisiana – New Orleans, LA
Announcement for grants for additional HBCU testing hubs are expected.