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Oracle’s Larry Ellison Refocuses Charitable Efforts To Battle COVID-19: Report

The tech mogul’s London-based foundation has vacillated in focus in recent years, and now is being disbanded to direct funds to fighting the pandemic, Recode reported. Ellison has already dedicated Oracle resources to building a database that empowers researchers with up-to-the-minute data on drug treatments, but also has stirred controversy as a reported promoter of an unproven antimalarial drug to President Trump.

Oracle founder, executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison is shifting his charitable focus, which has vacillated in recent years, to ending the COVID-19 crisis, according tech news site Recode.

The tech mogul, with $70 billion to his name and a stated willingness to distribute part of that fortune, has started releasing Larry Ellison Foundation staff in London to “refocus” his philanthropic money and energy on the current pandemic, Recode reported Wednesday, citing an email shared by a charity that previously received grant money from the foundation.

Ellison will replace the current organization with what Recode describes as a new “medical philanthropy” he is building. Oracle declined to comment on that report.

[Related: Larry Ellison Calls Zoom ‘Essential Service For Oracle’]

Ellison has already dedicated resources to combating the virus that has shut down much of the world’s economy and taken more than 180,000 lives in the United States alone.

After the pandemic erupted in March, he put Oracle engineers to work developing a ‘therapeutic learning system’—a repository of real-world data to inform the work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and affiliated healthcare organizations fighting COVID-19.

That project empowers researchers with aggregated data—not owned by Oracle—on treatment decisions with commercially available drugs, the outcomes of those treatments, and the results of ongoing monitoring of virus symptoms.

That database is contributing to studies now overseen by institutional review boards and research organizations who can determine when and where they publish findings.

Ellison began making changes in his foundation’s goals back in 2018, but the current crisis prompted another change in tack after two years of work, according to Recode.

Ellison’s coronavirus credentials have also been called into question by a New York Times story published in April reporting he was among the first to raise President Donald Trump’s hopes that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine could be an effective treatment.

In a mid-March phone call, Ellison raised the potential for hydroxychloroquine--which is being experimented with, sometimes as part of a pharmacological cocktail--to treat patients stricken by the new disease.

Trump touted the drug for months despite no evidence of its effectiveness and concerns it could jeopardize the health of those with heart conditions.

During one White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing in April, Trump urged patients multiple times to ask their doctors to prescribe the unproven therapy--even asking, “what do you have to lose?”

A study recently published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, the official journal of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), showed no evidence of lower mortality rates in COVID-19 patients taking hydroxychloroquine, and a 27 percent surge in mortality for those who combined it with the antibiotic azithromycin.

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