Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who spent more than $650m on his failed 2020 presidential campaign, announced his organisation was planning to donate $40m to “prevent and slow” the spread of coronavirus.
The billionaire politician made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday, saying his philanthropic organisation would commit to spending the total sum to battle the pandemic as it spreads “around the world, particularly in Africa”.
He added: “Millions of lives and livelihoods depend on getting this response right.”
The billionaire’s warning was stark, and appeared to echo statements from global health officials who said in recent weeks that millions of people could die as hospitals potentially face severe overcrowding amid a surge in new cases.
But the money he vowed to donate to combat the spread of the deadly illness paled in comparison to the historic amount of personal funding he put forward towards his Democratic presidential campaign.
Mr Bloomberg spent an estimated $687 million on his presidential campaign — the most any campaign has ever spent in the history of the United states — with more than $550 million of those funds going towards advertising, according to Bloomberg News.
All together, the billionaire spent nearly 17 times more money towards his campaign for the White House than he has committed towards preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Bloomberg failed to make a strong showing in any of the primary votes across the country, however, only securing at least 53 delegates during Super Tuesday, while former Vice President Joe Biden raked in at least 566.
The former New York City mayor announced he was dropping out of the race shortly after the nation’s first set of primary votes, following what analysts said was a weak performance in the Democratic debates. In announcing the suspension of his campaign, Mr Bloomberg vowed to work with Democrats towards ousting Donald Trump from the Oval Office.
“I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump,” he said. “And today, I am leaving the race for the same reason – to defeat Donald Trump, because staying in would make it more difficult to achieve that goal.”
Mr Bloomberg has also endorsed Mr Biden for the Democratic nomination.
On Tuesday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country soared past 5,000, as the national death toll rose to at least 94. Experts said the true number of cases was likely far higher, however, citing complications in rolling out testing kits to hospitals and medical facilities across the country in recent weeks.
US health officials have said those numbers would likely continue to increase in the coming days and weeks as more tests were performed on patients exhibiting symptoms associated with the illness, including respiratory issues, pneumonia and a fever.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies