coronavirus

After Coronavirus Outbreak at Biogen Meeting, Company Foundation Commits $10M for Relief

Just over half of all COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts have been tied to a late-February Biogen meeting at a Boston hotel

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Biogen, the biotech company behind a cluster of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts and several other U.S. states, is committing $10 million to relief efforts in the commonwealth and elsewhere through its foundation.

The $10 million the Biogen Foundation is donating "will be used to address immediate critical needs," mainly in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Italy, for testing, training and health care workers' access to food, the company said in a statement Monday.

One hundred coronavirus cases in Massachusetts have been tied to a late-February Biogen meeting at a Boston hotel as of Monday. That accounts for just over half of the commonwealth's 197 coronavirus cases.

The Cambridge-based company has already given diagnostic medical equipment and supplies to Massachusetts' Partners HealthCare and aims to help two other local hospital systems, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, it said.

“It is vital that we act immediately to support those who are on the front lines caring for the health and well-being in all communities affected around the world," CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a statement. "Our hope is that this commitment will support these courageous organizations, and the vulnerable, during this unprecedented time.”

The Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston was closed indefinitely, days after it was determined that a company's meeting there was the center of a coronavirus cluster.

Last week, the downtown Boston hotel that hosted the Biogen employee meeting, the Marriott Long Wharf, closed, apparently indefinitely. The meeting had gathered about 175 company executives for two days.

State health officials have said that Biogen notified them of the potential coronavirus outbreak nearly a week later. By March 6, they had publicly confirmed the cases as the type of coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

The cluster of cases tied to Biogen includes people in North Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., as well as in Europe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NBC/Associated Press
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