UCB made its expertise and facilities available to governments and health authorities throughout the crisis in order to help increase testing and monitoring of the virus. In Belgium, we worked closely with local authorities as part of a task force announced by Secretary of State Philippe De Backer to increase the country’s testing capacity, by performing COVID-19 tests at our facility in Braine l’Alleud. In total, we performed approximately 100 000 tests from April to October 2020. In the U.K., our teams delivered equipment to the U.K. government labs to accelerate screening.
Early on in the pandemic, UCB dedicated a one-off budget of € 1.5 million to assist communities in need with donations - financial and in-kind such as hydro-alcoholic gel, masks, protection shields and other protective material. These funds were focused on facilitating patient access to care and maximizing collaboration with the authorities to limit COVID-19 risk. By the end of 2020, the total contribution to local organizations was over € 1.3 million.
A large proportion of the funding was used for the acquisition of protective materials for healthcare and frontline workers in a number of countries such as Australia, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Japan, the U.S. and others..
Donations were also used to fund the creation of new COVID-19 hospital beds and field hospitals, or to help existing hospitals adapt their facilities as needed. In Lombardy, Italy, UCB contributed to the creation of a pop-up hospital specifically equipped for the care of COVID-19 patients. In Brazil, we donated to the Santa Marcelina Hospital with similarly-focused funding, while in Mexico, we supported the partnership between the Mexican Red Cross and the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER). We also provided several Spanish and U.K. hospitals with support in developing a distribution channel of medicines to limit hospital visits, and resources to support remote patient care.
We also used the funding to support government initiatives around medical research and innovation. such as the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center in the U.S., which received donations for continuing their efforts in helping public health organizations solve COVID-19 challenges. Resources were also directed to organizations who experienced a drop in donations due to the crisis and needed more resources to continue or restart their activities. In the U.S., for instance, we donated extra office supplies to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers returning to their classrooms after lockdown, as part of our ongoing efforts to support STEM education and strengthen the pipeline of future research talent.
Finally, conscious of the impact of this crisis on micro and small businesses within our communities, we offered our smaller suppliers expedited payment of their invoices where needed and we committed to shortening our payment times for new orders.