Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has set up a special website to supply urgent medical equipment from around the world to China in a bid to help fight the coronavirus.
The business-to-business website aims to create a direct connection between suppliers of medical equipment and teams of doctors on the ground battling the infectious disease, the firm said on Thursday.
Alibaba also said that on January 25 it set up a dedicated fund of some $140 million to buy essential medical equipment from around the world, including from Israel, to supply teams operating in Chinese cities.
The platform aims to be an information bridge for large wholesalers, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, the statement said.
“Alibaba will post the specifications of needed medical supplies, including types, models and quantities of products, based on information collected from hospitals and local authorities. Suppliers can provide information about the products they can offer. Once the supplier is verified and the goods certified as an acceptable match, Alibaba will begin the procurement process. Goods purchased through this platform will go to hospitals based on urgency and priority,” the statement said.
The virus that started in China has infected at least 28,000 people locally and globally, according to CNN, and more than 560 have died. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global emergency and has warned governments to prepare for “domestic outbreak control” if the disease were to spread in their countries.
Alibaba has approached medical suppliers globally, including in Israel, with letters detailing what equipment is needed — including masks, protective suits, gloves and glasses to safeguard the medical professionals as they work.
“It doesn’t matter where your equipment is, we will transfer it to the medical teams in the fastest and safest manner,” the Chinese firm said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the press.
As of February 3, the firm had supplied goods from 15 countries to 18 hospitals in the Hubei, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces in China, the statement said.