Twitter founder commits $1bn to tackle coronavirus pandemic

Twitter CEO Dorsey

Twitter founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey is setting aside $1bn (£800m), or more than one-quarter of his fortune, in stock to help fund relief efforts aimed initially at fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dorsey, who is also chief executive of the financial-payments start-up Square, will bequeath the new venture shares from his Square holdings.

The 43-year-old announced the new venture, called Start Small, in a series of tweets, and said the contribution amounts to 28 per cent of his fortune.

Dorsey, who for years has kept details of his charitable efforts private, said all donations to and from the fund would now be visible to the public at all times through a public document, on a Google Doc spreadsheet.

Dorsey added, however, that the new venture Start Small will not be limited to fighting the pandemic.

“Once we have disarmed this pandemic,” he wrote, the organisation will shift its focus to girls’ health and research into universal basic income, the idea that governments should guarantee a minimum income for all citizens.

Dorsey, whose net worth is estimated at $3.3bn (£2.7bn) by Forbes, also said that he was pledging his stake in Square instead of Twitter because he owns a bigger portion of the payments processor. He also said that he would pace the sale of the pledged shares over time.

In other news, a small Pennsylvania biotech company has started injecting healthy volunteers with a potential coronavirus vaccine, after receiving regulatory clearance to start clinical testing, according to a Business Inside report.

The experimental vaccine was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, with the effort receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.The company has said that it injected its first volunteer on Monday (6 April).

Inovio’s candidate in its fight against the virus, called INO-4800, is the second potential coronavirus vaccine to start human trials in the US. The Massachusetts biotech Moderna started dosing in mid-March for its own safety trial.

Inovio’s trial will be made up of 40 volunteers, all healthy adults selected via screening conducted at either Philadelphia’s Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, or the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City.

The trials will span the next several weeks, with the company expecting data around the immune responses from test subjects, as well as information pertaining to the safety of the treatment for humans, to be available by late this summer.