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Happy Tuesday, readers.
Yesterday, I spoke with an intriguing trio—Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman, Jeremy Farrar, director of the drug research charity Wellcome, and Mastercard vice chairman Mike Froman. What would bring all three together? The coronavirus, of course.
The triumvirate announced on Tuesday that it’s creating a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The purpose, as you might guess, is to speed promising therapies such as antivirals and immunotherapies through the clinic and on to the market—and then help speed up the manufacturing process and, critically, make sure therapies are accessible to all who need them.
The Gates Foundation’s and Wellcome’s involvement may not come as much of a surprise. But why is Mastercard in the mix (other than it just being a good thing to do)? It’s all about the financial fallout.
“Coronavirus is a major public health issue, but it’s also an issue for economic growth and economic vitality,” Froman tells me. “As a global company, it’s in our interest that we get back on track with our economies. We thrive when economies thrive around the world.”
The groups are collectively pledging up to $125 million ($50 million each from the Gates Foundation and Wellcome and $25 million from Mastercard) to fund the effort.
Check out my full writeup of how the accelerator will function—and how important such an initiative is given “a completely unprecedented epidemic,” as Wellcome director Jeremy Farrar describes it.
Read on for the day’s news.
U.K.'s NHS tackles coronavirus misinformation with tech giants' help. The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) has joined forces with Google, Twitter, and Facebook to stem an outbreak—of coronavirus misinformation. In essence, the various firms will be working to cut down on questionable coronavirus content on their platforms and work with the NHS to verify NHS-affiliated accounts (and make sure they aren't fake). Google will also prioritize search results for coronavirus information that contain NHS-verified information. (HealthcareITNews)
Bristol-Myers helps fuel a staggering $600 million life sciences fund. Drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb has helped lead LSP to what the firm says is the largest venture fund for the life sciences in Europe—an eye-popping $600 million fund. That's a significant chunk of change and would be critical for evening the playing ground between European drug makers and American firms. "The number of high-quality life sciences innovations in Europe is similar to the United States but there is 5x less capital available to back these innovators and entrepreneurs," said LSP managing partner René Kuijten in a statement. (FierceBiotech)
THE BIG PICTURE
Fighting anti-competitiveness in the midst of an outbreak. Yesterday, I wrote about the risk of snake oil salesmen capitalizing on the coronavirus crisis. But scams come in many forms—including price gouging and anti-competitive behavior. ModernHealthcare reports that the Justice Department is openly tracking "any anticompetitive actions in connection with the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of face masks, respirators, and diagnostic tests" related to the coronavirus. (ModernHealthcare)
New federal rules allow patients to access medical records via smartphone, by Fred Schulte & Erika Fry
Some advice for young investors during their first stock market crash, by Ben Carlson
Politicians around the world are going into quarantine, by David Meyer