Pittsburgh Sports Figures Donate $800k to COVID-19 Vaccine Research

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 29: Two Pittsburgh Steelers helmets are seen on the field before the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

A contingent of prominent Pittsburgh sports figures and franchises donated a combined $800,000 to the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research, according to ESPN's Andrea Adelson

The Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers chipped in $100,000 apiece. Pitt Panthers football coach Pat Narduzzi, men's basketball coach Jeff Capel, women's basketball coach Lance White and athletic director Heather Lyke provided a combined $500,000.

Center for Vaccine Research director Paul Duprex issued a statement on the donation:

"We are stunned by the generosity and support the Pittsburgh community has shown for our center over the past few months, most recently from Pitt Athletics and our local sports teamsthe Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. That's the legacy of Jonas Salk on this town. Pittsburgh understands the importance of vaccines, and we're so grateful to be located here, where we can do our work to combat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, knowing the community is behind us."

Pitt famously played in integral role in the development of the polio vaccine as Jonas Salk started working at the school in 1947 before releasing the vaccine to the public in 1955.

The university announced in February it was collecting samples of the coronavirus for the purposes of exploring a possible vaccine. Pitt's School of Medicine said in April that one experimental vaccine was developing antibodies in mice "thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus."

In an op-ed for CNN, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz wrote he doesn't expect a coronavirus vaccine will be completed by the fall based on historical trends and that a January 2021 timetable might be too optimistic as well.

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Nearly 3.7 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 258,000 deaths have been confirmed across the world, per CNN. The United States has 1.2 million confirmed cases, roughly one million more than the next closest country, Spain.