How are companies responding to the coronavirus crisis?

The dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide.

Organizations around the world, including the Forum and its partners, are coming together and finding innovative ways to minimize the impact on public health and to limit disruptions to economies and supply chains.

Here are just some ways Forum partners, corporations and other organizations globally are finding new ways to tackle the pandemic. Updated on 2 April, 2020.

World Economic Forum guides businesses in their response to COVID-19 – encouraging bold leadership and solidarity

As countries continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses need to respond to urgent concerns from their workforces around safety and support.

Most employers are putting in place new measures for their workforces rapidly – often with no previous comparable experiences.

Businesses should sustainably manage the shift to flexible/remote working
Image: Andrew Neel/UNSplash

To help guide chief human resource officers and other business leaders through this unfolding crisis, the World Economic Forum published The Workforce Principles for the COVID-19 Pandemic in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson.

“This crisis presents an opportunity to take bold actions and show leadership and solidarity,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Responsible employers can apply these principles and guidelines to better balance short-term crisis measures against the medium- and long-term objectives.”

These actions can include protecting salaries and benefits, as well as providing learning opportunities to make progress against reskilling and workforce-transformation objectives. Such an approach enables organizations to earn the trust of employees and unlock the discretionary effort needed to move the organization forward in turbulent times.

Local investment for the United States ramps up as the infection rate climbs

As the United States braces for the impact of coronavirus, with the infection rate climbing, biotechnological company Amgen, which is engaged with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, is directing US $12.5 million to support relief efforts to address critical needs in US communities impacted by COVID-19.

Amgen has also stepped up its dissemination of critical medical information during the coronavirus crisis in its COVID-19 information centre, which features resources including videos answering questions about whether to wear a face mask out in public and information addressing anxiety related to COVID-19 and asking experts for help. Their audience is patients, the public, medical professionals and local communities.

The company’s US $12.5 million donation is being invested at a local level - on response funds awarded to non-profit organizations and those working at the frontline of the outbreak in communities in the US.

The Tata Group pledges $200 million for affected communities, free education software and a COVID-19 patient tracker to fight the virus

Tata Consultancy Services, Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of the COVID Action Platform, has pledged funds, offered free education software and harnessed research expertise in the fight against COVID-19.

The larger Tata Group has pledged more than US $200 million to protect and empower affected communities - working closely with the governments in countries where they operate. The funds will provide personal protective equipment for health workers on the frontline, respiratory systems, testing kits, treatment facilities and training for health workers.

Tata is also working on a COVID-19 patient tracker for clinical trials and harnessing their expertise to explore promising ideas for affordable and effective ventilators and medical kits.Their research and development is focused on addressing the highest priority needs worldwide.

The company has also made their distance learning software platform available for free to educational institutions. The mobile and web platform empowers educators to engage with students in real time - sharing educational materials including videos, assignments and assessments in an interactive way - with even the option to simulate live classroom teaching.

CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services, Rajesh Gopinathan, has urged all companies to be leaders in responding to the COVID crisis globally.

LEGO prioritizes the critical needs of children during the coronavirus crisis

LEGO, a partner of the World Economic Forum, has launched two initiatives to support children around the world during the COVID-19 crisis - from the most vulnerable in refugee camps and war-torn countries, to children experiencing quarantine in urban areas.

The LEGO Foundation will donate US $50 million to ensure children, particularly those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, continue to have access to learning through play. They will reach children in emergency situations with essential supplies, ensuring education and play across communities most in need.

The second initiative is a new website which encourages families worldwide to connect to play-based learning across social media. The hope is that families and children can connect online via their free site to share creativity and play ideas, learn from LEGO designers and help children to continue building life-long skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and developing new forms of fun while away from school. The initiative also aims to alleviate stress on parents during this unprecedented event.

UNESCO reports most governments around the world have temporarily closed education institutions - affecting more than 80% of the world’s school population.

Support for frontline healthcare workers & a commitment to supply one billion vaccines globally

After launching a commitment of $250 million over 10 years to frontline healthcare workers at the 50th Annual Meeting in Davos 2020, Johnson & Johnson have announced an additional $50 million to support frontline healthcare workers fighting coronavirus.

The funds will be invested to support doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers treating patients worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting health workers is a legacy of the company - in the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson helped limit the spread of the Spanish flu by introducing the epidemic mask.

Serving doctors, nurses and health workers is who we are and what we do—and has been since 1886. Those at the front lines are our colleagues, family members, customers and partners—so we join the millions around the world who put them front and center right now, to support them as they provide care amidst Covid-19.

—Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communication Officer, Johnson & Johnson

The company has also this week (30 March) announced its goal to scale up manufacturing capacity to supply one billion vaccines worldwide for emergency pandemic use, with the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine potentially available for emergency use in early 2021.

Companies worldwide are investing funds, innovating, and providing resources and manpower to fight COVID-19. Read about a range of multistakeholder projects launched via the Forum’s COVID Action Platform.

P&G to produce 45,000 litres of hand sanitizer weekly

As demand for hand sanitizer around the world has increased, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has responded by installing new production lines in five manufacturing sites around the world. When fully operational, the company will produce 45,000 litres per week, and most of this supply will go to hospitals, health authorities and relief organizations.

One of the world’s leading consumer goods companies, P&G is also providing product donations and financial support to communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has committed contributions of product and in-kind support that exceed $15 million.

P&G is also donating products from 30 brands in more than 20 countries to communities around the world so families can access cleaning products as well as health and hygiene supplies.In addition to direct support, P&G is providing cash support to a range of disaster relief organizations including the International Federation of Red Cross, which is co-chairing The World Economic Forum’s Humanitarian Investing Initiative.

$800 million commitment from Google helps WHO, governments, small-to-mid sized businesses and frontline health workers

Google has stepped up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, pledging a total of $800 million to support small- and medium-sized businesses, governments, health organizations and health workers fighting COVID-19.

After announcing an initial $25 million in advertising grants last month, the company has now increased its grant commitment to $250 million - specifically for the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally to provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As part of their total commitment, $20 million in advertising grants will be given to community financial institutions and NGOs to run public service announcements and provide other resources for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Another initiative is a $200 million investment fund, which will support NGOs and banks worldwide to give small businesses access to capital.

Google has also created a website dedicated to COVID-19 help and resources - ensuring safety and prevention tips reach people in need. The company says coronavirus is taking a devastating toll on lives and communities. Its commitment will help address some of the challenges globally.

Novo Nordisk Foundation funds scientific, social and health outreach grants to mitigate the effects of coronavirus in Denmark

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is funding DKK 50 million in grants for scientific, social and health outreach projects to manage the impact of COVID-19 in Denmark.

A strategic partner of the World Economic Forum, Novo Nordisk Foundation has taken the innovative approach to support national projects that are publicly accessible and able to be initiated immediately. Knowledge from the projects can then be used in similar situations in the future.

Applications are being considered across three grant areas - scientific projects that test new treatments, techniques and technologies; outreach initiatives that assist with communication about the health crisis to the public; and social initiatives that support particularly vulnerable people affected by COVID-19.

A number of grants have already been awarded to projects including an information campaign aimed at ethnic minorities living in Denmark and one that applies Artificial Intelligence to conduct real-time risk assessment of patients with COVID-19.

The initiative follows an announcement from the organization earlier in March that it would invest millions into research and development to prepare Denmark for future viral epidemics. The interest in the grants shows demand for organizations globally to broaden their innovation in support and response to COVID-19.

Nestlé provides emergency help - donating food, medical nutrition products, bottled water & CHF 10 million to countries in greatest need

Nestlé has stepped up its humanitarian efforts in the response to COVID-19 by partnering with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide urgent help to emergency services, caregivers, and to strengthen health systems.

The company, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of our COVID Action Platform, will donate food, medical nutrition products and bottled water to bring relief to those most affected by the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere, drawing on our extensive presence and experience in 187 countries. We applaud the relentless efforts of the millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and admire their determination to make a difference on the ground."

— Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé

Nestlé has immediately made a donation of CHF 10 million for countries most in need, and will deploy available logistics capacities to support the needs of IFRC in countries around the world.

Millions of face masks donated to the frontline in the US and Europe

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple has announced this week that the company has sourced, procured and is donating 10 million masks to the medical community in the United States, and millions more for the European regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with frontline health employees, Apple has recognized and thanked essential workers across the supply chain - from warehouse and delivery workers to those stocking supermarket shelves - for their tireless efforts to deliver vital services in the face of COVID-19.

Other major tech companies globally have also pledged to donate face masks as a frontline defence against coronavirus. It is one example of how organizations are mobilizing cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response.

HP CEO calls on companies and business leaders to step up their response to COVID-19

After HP committed to donating millions of dollars in technology and support to help students, families, and communities, President and CEO Enrique Lores issued a call-to-action to companies and business leaders globally to step forward and play a more significant role in overcoming obstacles during the coronavirus crisis, creating opportunities for the future.

It’s incumbent on business leaders everywhere to commit to supporting employees at every level of their organization in the unpredictable weeks and months ahead.

— Enrique Lores, President & CEO, HP Inc.

Along with the support for employees, HP Inc is designing and producing essential parts for medical responders and hospitals, thanks to its 3D Printing team and Digital Manufacturing Partner Network.

These parts include ventilator valves, breathing filters, face mask clasps, and innovations like plastic door handle adaptors that enable easy elbow opening to prevent further spread of the virus.

If companies are struggling to know where to begin in harnessing their efforts to respond to the crisis - they are invited join the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, to connect with other businesses, governments and civil society to respond to the world’s greatest needs during the spread of COVID-19.

Healthcare financing comes to low-income countries fighting a virus that doesn’t respect borders

The public-private global health partnership GAVI, founded at the World Economic Forum in 2000, protects people's health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries.

Today, GAVI is giving emerging economies the tools to fight Coronavirus by allowing certain low-income countries to reallocate 10% of grants to their COVID-19 response.

This will allow countries to improve hygiene and infection control training for health workers, boost infection control supplies, and increase laboratory testing until funds being allocated by the global community for the COVID response are available.

“This disease doesn’t respect borders, which is why it will take a truly global response to defeat it,”

—Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board.

The organization is working with WHO, CEPI, World Bank, UNICEF and partners from across the healthcare industry to accelerate priority candidate COVID-19 vaccines.

Since its launch 20 years ago GAVI has contributed to the immunization of 760 million children, and saved more than 13 million lives.

Production of critical care products increases, helping patients diagnosed with COVID-19

Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology and Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, announced this week an increase in the production of critical care products and solutions to help diagnose and treat patients with coronavirus.

From vital signs monitors and portable ventilators to medical consumables to treat a broad range of respiratory conditions, a variety of products are needed to prepare for, respond to and ensure the recovery of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Diagnostic imaging systems and hospital telehealth solutions from Philips will also assist in the monitoring and management of patients in intensive care units – while also connecting caregivers and patients at home.

Soaring numbers of new coronavirus patients are putting the world’s health services under strain, and more medical experts, equipment and supplies are needed globally to fight the pandemic.

AstraZeneca donates 9 million face masks to support healthcare workers worldwide, starts shipment to Italy

After announcing it will donate nine million face masks to support healthcare workers worldwide in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, AstraZeneca has today (Wednesday 25 March) sent the first shipment of face masks to Italy.

The organization made the donation as part of its partnership with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform. Italy will receive the first shipments of face masks, with other countries to follow.

The company is also accelerating the development of its diagnostic testing capabilities to scale-up screening and supplement testing where needed.

Organizations globally are invited to partner with the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, which ensures global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Companies can join the platform and contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak through initiatives like AstraZeneca’s donation, here.

World’s biggest soap company announces free sanitizer, soap, bleach and food worth €100 million

Unilever acts to help meet global demand for more soap to be made readily available to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Among a range of measures announced by the company today (Tuesday, 24 March), is the commitment to provide free soap, sanitizer, bleach and food to the value of €100 million – with half of the donation going to the World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform.

“It’s going to take action from everyone in society to overcome this challenge, and we are ready to play our part and fight this together.” Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever

The company said that until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, soap remains our best first line of defence. Unilever has launched initiatives in the US, India, China, UK, Netherlands, Italy and other countries around the world, with teams manufacturing and distributing millions of bars of free soap to those most in need.

Unilever has acknowledged their responsibility to help fight this pandemic – including teaching people around the world how to wash their hands effectively. It’s a strong response, set to inspire other companies to play their part and make a difference.

The first human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine was administered in mid-March

The first Phase 1 study for a COVID-19 vaccine began in mid-March. Forty-five volunteers are expected to participate in the trial. The vaccine itself will not be available to the general public for at least a year to ensure if it is both safe and effective.

The Phase 1 study received funding support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2017. The organization this week announced their seventh COVID-19 vaccine project in the fight against the pandemic.

CEPI brings together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.

Davos 2019 - Press Conference: CEPI - Building a Global Coalition to End Epidemics

Coalitions like CEPI are made possible through public-private partnerships. The World Economic Forum is the global platform for stakeholder engagement, bringing together a range of leaders from business, government and civil society to improve the state of the world. You can partner directly with our Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare to contribute to global health solutions.

Using biology to accelerate the search for potential COVID-19 vaccine

As coronavirus disrupts communities and economies around the world, the race is on to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and the world is watching.

Synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks is bringing its research and development experience into the fight against the pandemic and is speeding up the development of a vaccine by bringing together different teams who are working on an inoculation.

A technician works in the inoculation area during preparations to produce vaccines for the H1N1 flu virus at a lab in Wuhan, Hubei province June 17, 2009. Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech Ltd hopes to put its H1N1 vaccine through its first clinical trial by the end of July, as pharmaceutical firms race to put vaccines against the new flu virus into commercial production. Thousands of chicken eggs were readied to grow the H1N1 virus on Monday, after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic last Thursday and warned governments to prepare for a long battle against the virus. Picture taken June 17, 2009. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA HEALTH SOCIETY SCI TECH BUSINESS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - GM1E56I0YHF01
Image: REUTERS/China Daily

The company, which is part of the Forum Vanguard community, has made a USD 25 million commitment and is working with the Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare to engage companies and research labs that are developing drugs or vaccines.

This effort also includes support for sharing R&D information as quickly as possible once it is discovered by academics and companies working on solutions to the pandemic.

A new plan takes COVID-19 advice across Africa

More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of 19 March, according to the World Health Organization. Responding to the rapidly changing situation on a continent with specific healthcare challenges, a leading data intelligence firm has created a new plan to disseminate guidance on COVID-19 among the 42 countries of the African Union.

Africa Media Leader Briefing on COVID-19

Through a public-private partnership, the NGO Resolve to Save Lives and the African Centre for Disease Control are working with IPSOS to gather data-driven insights which will allow them to create tailored guidelines on preventative measures on COVID-19. The coalition was able to use each partner’s expertise to make a plan within a week that could deliver this solution fast and at scale.

Universities continue teaching the next generation of leaders

Centres of learning across the world, including those which are members of the The Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) community, are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have moved classes online, reduced all but critical research, and are even planning for virtual graduation ceremonies.


In response to the situation, Coursera, partners of the Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society, is providing universities with free access to over 3,800 courses from leading universities and companies. Through their online platform students can continue their studies in areas ranging from Computer Science to Arts and Humanities. Videos, assignments and readings are available in a range of languages and can be access via web, mobile, or download.

Crisis-affected art museums, research projects and youth organizations receive a boost in funding

The Carlsberg Foundation has launched funding for grants that will mobilize and support researchers, art museums and youth civil society in the scientific, economic and human efforts during this new era as society is challenged by the COVID-19 epidemic.

A significant investment was made to restart crisis-affected art museums in Denmark. Many art museums are temporarily closed on instructions from the authorities in connection with COVID-19, and the funding for art museums will assist with the implementation of programs that will draw guests back to museums when they reopen.

Funds were also provided for an emergency pool for civil society youth organizations to launch activities targeted at people who are particularly affected by COVID-19.

From supporting research on viruses to human behaviour, and donating to research the outbreak, spread and cessation of historical epidemics – the funding is set to encourage other businesses to invest in new ways to support the local and global economy during the coronavirus crisis.

Fashion and beauty brands are shifting gears to make masks and hand sanitiser

Factories that usually produce fashion and beauty products are shifting gears and joining the fight against COVID-19.

Kering SA, the conglomerate behind luxury fashion labels Balenciaga and Saint Laurent, said it would switch factory operations to producing surgical masks for French hospitals, with the approval of health authorities.

Inditex, which owns fashion retailer Zara, said it was looking into ways to convert part of its textile manufacturing capacity in Spain to make hospital gowns.

It was also planning to donate 300,000 masks and make its logistics and supplier network available to meet demand of emergency medical supplies.

H&M has followed suit and has offered to donate and source supplies of protective masks, gowns and gloves to countries most affected in the EU.

Luxury firm LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, TAG Heuer and many other brands, will use its perfume production infrastructure to make hand sanitiser.

“LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands... to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels,” the company said in a statement.

LVMH will use perfume production lines to produce hydroalcoholic gels
Image: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

And the company is not stopping there. LVMH, a partner of the Forum, has also pledged to work with a Chinese industrial supplier to secure 10 million surgical face masks which will be distributed to French health services.

The cloud is keeping education going during the COVID-19 crisis in Bahrain

With COVID-related school closures increasing globally, across the Middle East companies are asking: how can the cloud power schools and universities to run their classes remotely?

Bahrain’s Ministry of Education has worked with the Kingdom’s Information & eGovernment Authority to create a dedicated electronic education portal - used by students to view lessons, download education materials, complete their homework online, and participate in discussions with classmates.

Social media concept.
As of mid-March, the total number of students using the portal was 146,498, and 15,681 teachers.

This, in addition to government-mandated use of the cloud, means Bahrain, with its cloud-first vision, has ensured continuity of education nationwide during the COVID crisis.