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Biogen, host of Boston conference linked to dozens of coronavirus cases, donates $10M to pandemic response

A man walked outside the Biogen Inc., headquarters last week.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Biogen, the Cambridge-based biotech firm that hosted a late February conference in Boston linked to dozens of coronavirus cases, is donating $10 million to combat the pandemic.

“This donation will be used to help expand testing options, ease the strain on medical systems, provide training for front line health workers and support access to necessities like food,” the company said in a news release.

The number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts rose to 197 Monday, up from 164 on Sunday. More than 100 of those cases have been linked to the Biogen conference, which was held at Marriott Long Wharf on Feb. 26 and 27 and drew an international roster of executives.


Locally, the coronavirus outbreak has caused many aspects of everyday life to grind to a halt. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday he was suspending construction in the city, a day after Governor Charlie Baker ordered all public and private schools across Massachusetts to close for three weeks, beginning Tuesday. Baker also limited all restaurants to only takeout and delivery as of Tuesday.

In Somerville, Mayor Joseph Curtatone has ordered gyms, entertainment venues, theaters, houses of worship, and social clubs to close for three weeks.

Biogen said the donation will help nonprofits in Massachusetts and North Carolina, as well as Italy and other countries affected by the pandemic.

The company is also providing equipment and supplies to Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts to help diagnose Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. The Partners system includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We are deeply affected by the impact of Covid-19 globally and we understand the critical importance of access to testing and other materials to support healthcare providers,” Michel Vounatsos, Biogen’s CEO, said in a statement. “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. Our hope is that this commitment will support these courageous organizations, and the vulnerable, during this unprecedented time.”


Elsewhere in the state on Monday, Cape Cod Healthcare, along with county health officials, started providing drive-through testing for coronavirus to patients at a community college in West Barnstable.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald.