The Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest research funders, wants to raise $8 billion (£6.35 billion) by the end of April for the development of coronavirus vaccines, treatments and tests.

Governments and international financial institution have already committed large amounts of money to the Covid-19 response. Nevertheless, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board identified an $8 billion funding shortfall – a hole the Wellcome’s Covid-Zero initiative is now trying to plug.

Aimed at the private sector, Wellcome said that providing funds to Covid-Zero ‘is the best investment business can make’. Companies are encouraged to donate at least 10% of what they are contributing to their crisis management. According to a Bloomberg estimate, the pandemic will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion in lost output – as much as the UK’s GDP.

The money would go to four organisations coordinating the global research response: the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, the Foundation for New Innovative Diagnostics and the World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund. The largest chunk, $3 billion, would be needed for developing and manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine. Almost as much, $2.25 billion, is estimated to be needed for therapeutics development.

‘This is the only exit strategy – but we do not have the funding we need to execute it,’ said the Wellcome Trust’s director Jeremy Farrar. ‘We want business leaders to give a small proportion of the money they are dedicating to coping with this crisis, to solving it. We hope that governments will follow their example.’