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Direct Relief sent its first emergency shipment in response to Covid-19 to China on Jan. 27, 2020, one year ago. The next day, Jan. 28, 2020, the organization sent a wave of PPE shipments to health centers throughout the U.S.
In the year since, Direct Relief has emerged as one of the largest charitable providers of personal protective gear (PPE) and critical care medications globally, having delivered more than 82 million units of PPE, 173 million defined daily doses of vital medicines, and 36 thousand pieces of diagnostic and intensive care equipment to thousands of local organizations across 100 countries, including the U.S.
The organization has also supported health care providers with more than $50 million in direct financial assistance to sustain care and expand services that include mobile and pop-up testing sites, telehealth expansion, and greater cold chain capacity.
For an overview of Direct Relief’s activities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, please continue reading.
Covid-19 Pandemic Donations
Jan. 27, 2020 – Jan. 27, 2021
Direct Relief does not accept government funding. Its work is made possible entirely through the support of companies, organizations, foundations, and individuals.
The organization recognizes that supporters who made generous contributions of funding, services, and in-kind goods amid the pandemic did so with the specific intent that their contributions fight Covid-19 and its devastating consequences. In accepting funds as part of its Covid-19 response, Direct Relief understands that these supporters deserve to know precisely how those funds have been and will be disbursed.
Direct Relief received more than 151,000 financial contributions designated for Covid-19, totaling $125.8 million.
Some of these Covid-19-designated donations also had additional restrictions from donors requiring the funds be used for a particular region or country. All designated funds have been respected, administered, and disbursed accordingly.
How Were Funds Used
Direct Relief initiated its Covid-19 response activities using general operating funds. As Direct Relief began receiving funds donated for Covid-19, it expanded its activities and spending accordingly. The situation remains dynamic, with designated funds continuing to be accepted. Direct Relief takes great care to deploy incoming funds responsibly, efficiently, and as rapidly as possible, consistent with donors’ intent.
The following offers a snapshot of the total Covid-19 donations received over the past year:
To date, Direct Relief has spent or committed a total of $83.5 million in cash (66% of the $125.8 million received) in its pandemic response — which continues at high-pace.
Of that amount, $40.8 million has been spent or committed as direct grants to organizations on the frontlines of the pandemic, $35.6 million has been spent on purchasing essential medical items not available through donation, and $7.1 million was spent to distribute all material and financial assistance provided in response to Covid-19, as described below.
By the numbers
Jan. 27, 2020 – Jan. 27, 2021
Financial Support Provided
$53,074,308 ($40.8 million of which came from Covid-19 designated funds)
Number of Grants Provided
Material Aid Provided
Medications (Defined Daily Doses)
Gowns and Coveralls
Safety Glasses and Goggles
PPE (total units)
Medical Material Support
Direct Relief has been responding to the pandemic since its earliest days, beginning with requests for help from overstretched hospitals in Wuhan, China. From there, Direct Relief’s response quickly expanded to the United States and the rest of the world.
Since Jan. 2020, the organization has provided support to more than 3,000 partner organizations fighting Covid-19 worldwide.
As of Jan. 27, 2021, that support has included more than 29,000 medical aid shipments totaling 4.9 million pounds and valued at $1.3 billion. Medical aid has reached organizations in 55 U.S. states and territories and 100 countries.
Material support has taken several distinct forms:
Supplies to protect frontline health workers: Direct Relief provided masks, gloves, gowns, powered air-purifying respirators, face shields, and other PPE to health care organizations globally.
Medical resources for intensive care: As the pandemic strained hospital resources, the organization provided ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and ICU medications to help overstretched hospitals treat patients with critical cases of Covid-19.
Ongoing support for chronic health: To minimize interruptions to essential health services, including primary and specialty care, maternal and child health services, mental health treatment, and substance use disorder interventions, Direct Relief provided a wide range of support — chronic health medications, the overdose-reversing medication naloxone, midwife kits, and more.
Direct Relief arranged for and managed the logistics, transport, and delivery of all products to health facilities – free-of-charge.
Direct Financial Assistance
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, designated contributions have allowed Direct Relief to bolster the health care system with financial assistance and support the efforts of locally run organizations with strong ties to their communities.
Thanks to corporate and individual donors’ generosity, Direct Relief has granted more than $53 million in cash worldwide since Jan. 27, 2020.
Grant recipients include health centers, clinics, and locally run organizations providing vital care, testing, and other health care services during the pandemic. These grants helped sustain strained health facilities, keep patients out of hospitals, maintain continuity of care, and fund Covid-19 testing and vaccinations.
For a list of health care facilities and organizations worldwide that have received direct funding from Direct Relief in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, click here.
Even before the pandemic, Direct Relief had facilitated emergency managers’ use of population movement and other data for decision-making purposes, including in Texas, California, and Michigan.
When Covid-19 hit, it was immediately apparent that this kind of data would be an essential tool for analyzing social distancing effectiveness.
In March of 2020, Direct Relief, with researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, established the Covid-19 Mobility Data Network. The network, comprised of a group of about 70 infectious disease epidemiologists and other researchers, began creating simple, usable data projects to help public health officials and policymakers understand the impacts of social distancing measures in a given area.
Officials have used the group’s research and information tools in the UK, Spain, Italy, India, Australia, Botswana, Chile, and other countries. The data used for these analyses is hosted on the UN’s Humanitarian Data Exchange, allowing governments worldwide to receive support or analyze the data themselves.
While the Covid-19 Mobility Data Network was convened because of an emergency, Direct Relief and the researchers wanted to ensure that similar data would be readily available in a clear and actionable form and on an ongoing basis for future crises, including wildfires and hurricanes.
CrisisReady, working with the World Bank, is in the initial stages of creating a global emergency response network, which will launch in March-April of 2021.
In addition, Direct Relief is funding two researchers whose essential work combines population movement data and health crisis analysis: Pamela Martinez at the University of Illinois and Amy Wesolowski at Johns Hopkins University.
Among the resources developed by Direct Relief to inform and track its pandemic response are the following:
The Covid-19 International Vulnerability Index examines population movement data and information about case counts, hospital beds, and other vulnerability indicators to generate actionable information and analysis.
The remaining funds designated for the pandemic will enable Direct Relief to continue its worldwide response, focusing on:
Supporting vaccination efforts
Expanding cold-chain storage and transport at hospitals and health centers and providing coolers for mobile vaccination campaigns.
Providing needles and syringes to administer vaccines.
Supplying PPE to health workers giving vaccinations.
Funding education, awareness, and outreach campaigns at health centers and hospitals, particularly in poor communities and communities of color.
Employing digital tools and artificial intelligence to determine low vaccine uptake areas and provide that information to policymakers and public health officials.
Funding health centers that experience reimbursement gaps after administering vaccines.
Increasing Direct Relief’s internal capabilities to receive, store, and distribute the vaccine.
Supporting the opening of large-scale vaccination sites with funding and supplies.
Providing back-up power sources to health care sites at risk of power loss, which can destroy vaccines.
Addressing Covid-19 gaps in hardest-hit areas
Funding health initiatives in primarily minority communities hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic.
Providing grants to health care providers in the United States and around the world struggling to care for patients affected by Covid-19.
Continuing to provide critical care medications, oxygen concentrators, and ventilators to hospitals worldwide caring for Covid-19 patients.
Supplying PPE to providers unable to access these lifesaving supplies reliably.
Establishing and funding Covid-19 treatment and isolation wards ensures that low-resource areas have the resources to care for Covid-19 patients safely.
Providing health care support for Covid-19 patients to recover at home, freeing hospital beds for more critical cases.
Continuing support for people with other health care needs:
While global health resources are diverted towards preventing and treating Covid-19, fundamental health care needs continue.
Babies continue to be born. The number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer is only growing. And children with diabetes, hemophilia, and rare diseases still need lifesaving therapies.
As the pandemic continues, Direct Relief will continue to provide the essential medical aid required for their care.
Direct Relief’s extensive ability to provide a wide range of medical aid, from PPE to medications intended for critical cases of Covid-19, would not have been possible without in-kind and financial donations from dozens of pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, with air transport and logistical services provided by FedEx.
Many of these organizations work closely with Direct Relief on an ongoing basis to fund and supply humanitarian projects and programs. However, the outpouring of support from corporate partners, both new and ongoing, has been unprecedented during the Covid-19 pandemic. Direct Relief is deeply grateful for their generosity and commitment.
Included among them are:
Adobe Systems, Inc.
Baxter International Foundation
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Charmin (The P&G Fund)
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Clara Lionel Foundation
The Clorox Company
The Coca-Cola Company
Crown Family Philanthropies
Dow Company Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Hearst Foundations
Jeremy Lin Foundation
Johnson and Johnson
King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Affairs