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Paul Allen Donates Grants worth $2 Million to combat Zika

Update Date: Feb 20, 2016 12:41 AM EST

Millionaire and co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, announced that he would be donating $2 million in grants to help fight the Zika virus.

The majority of the donation - $1.5 million - will be used to control the aedes aegypti mosquito population that has been spreading throughout central and South America. The mosquitoes also transmit the dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses. The remaining $500,000 will help fund Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc., the company that is working on creating a diagnostic test for the virus.

A diagnostic test is very important because symptoms of the Zika virus tend to only show up in about one in five patients. Since Zika has been linked to birth defect microcephaly, detecting the virus immediately to assess the risk of having a baby with the condition is very important.

"The slow global response to that [Ebola] outbreak may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of people. Now, another disease is challenging governments and the global health community," the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan Inc. said in a statement reported by the Washington Post. "While the Zika virus may not have the deadly consequences of Ebola, the lessons learned from that outbreak can be applied to prevent this one from becoming the next pandemic."

Vulcan Inc. oversees Allen's company as well as his charity projects.

This is not the first time that Allen has donated to a public health emergency. During the Ebola virus outbreak, Allen headed a campaign to raise funds for research. He also donated $100 million to the cause.

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