Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to ship 500K COVID-19 test kits to U.S.

Through his charitable foundation, the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma said he would donate 500,000 test kits, as well as 1 million face masks, to assist the U.S. response to the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The co-founder of the Alibaba Group—which encompasses the international online retail giant Alibaba as well as cloud computing subsidiaries and other tech offerings—made the announcement on Twitter, saying it was currently preparing the shipment.

“Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” Ma wrote, adding, “United we stand, divided we fall!”

In the past weeks, the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation have also delivered masks, reagents and supplies to Japan and Korea, as well as hard-hit areas in Italy, Iran and Spain.  

Following the initial outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the country has seen nearly 81,000 confirmed cases and reported over 3,100 deaths as of March 13, according to data from international public health agencies. However, the infection rate within mainland China has been leveling off over the past two weeks. 

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Ma later joined Twitter himself, with his first tweet including photos of the equipment being loaded on a plane in Shanghai for delivery to the U.S. 

The donation comes shortly after the head of the CDC, Robert Redfield, testified before Congress saying that the reagents necessary to prepare certain coronavirus tests are beginning to go into short supply.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government took actions to accelerate access to testing, including with the FDA’s first Emergency Use Authorization for a commercially made, high-throughput COVID-19 diagnostic, developed by Roche. The FDA also gave the New York State Department of Health to give laboratories the go-ahead to begin running validated tests without any federal approval.