Jack Ma, China’s richest man, announced on Twitter today that he is donating 1 million face masks and and 1 million coronavirus testing kits to the United States, which is currently suffering a face mask and respirator shortage along with a severely delayed regimen of coronavirus testing that has allowed community spread to threaten millions.
Ma, the CEO of Chinese e-commerc giant Alibaba, wrote that “this crisis presents a huge challenge to all humankind in a globalized world. The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country. Rather, we need to combat the virus by working hand-in-hand. At this moment, we can’t beat this virus unless we eliminate boundaries to resources and share our know-how and hard-earned lessons.”
Over the past few weeks, the Jack Ma foundation and the Alibaba foundation have assisted anti-coronavirus efforts in China, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Spain. It is not known where exactly the face masks and testing kits are sited, when they can be shipped, or even whether the CDC and/or state authorites will allow use of the test kits in the U.S.
The U.S. response to the coronavirus has been plagued with delays, defective test kits, miscommunications, and other problems that have allowed COVID-19 to spread enough to move the official response from containment to a strategy of mitigation. While face mask production is increasing (3M is now manufacturing 3.5 million masks a month), health experts maintain that the U.S. must have 3.5 billion masks on hand to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.