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Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Donates $5.3M to Kirby Institute

Published 05/13/2022, 10:30 AM
Updated 05/13/2022, 10:30 AM
© Reuters Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Donates $5.3M to Kirby Institute

  • Vitalik Buterin gifted USDC$4M or $5.3M to Kirby (NYSE:KEX) Insitute UNSW Sydney.
  • His donation is believed to be the largest-known cryptocurrency given to an Australian high education institution.
  • The donation was to support the development of a pandemic detection tool named EPIWATCH.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, gifted the Kirby Institute at the University of South Wales (UNSW) Sydney to help build a tool that would warn of future pandemics.

The founder of the world’s second biggest cryptocurrency gave USDC$4M (stablecoin), which approximately converts to $5.3 million. It is believed to be the largest-known cryptocurrency given to an Australian high education institution.

The donation was received to support EPIWATCH, an open-source intelligence (OSINT) tool developed by UNSW Kirby Institute’s Professor Raina MacIntyre.

EPIWATCH development began in 2016 and strengthened extensive research and testing. The said tool works by scanning millions of items of publicly available online data, such as social media and news reports, to spot epidemics far faster than formal reporting from national laboratories and doctors.

Buterin said:

The earlier we can detect new epidemics as they come, the more quickly we can start developing treatments or even stop them before they become large.

According to Professor MacIntyre, the gift will allow the team at UNSW’s Kirby Institute to make EPIWATCH accessible to low-and middle-income countries. “Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that is our vision,” she said. “Using AI and real-time open-source data, EPIWATCH does not depend on people making reports. It is a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship.”

For the tool to be most effective, it needs to be accessible in local languages and used widely at the grassroots level down to villages and small towns around the world. This will give the best prospect of preventing pandemics.

Meanwhile, Professor Attila Brungs, vice-chancellor and president of UNSW Sydney, expressed his appreciation for the gift they have received from the Balvi fund. “We have seen the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world in the past two years. By making EPIWATCH accessible in lower income countries, the Shiba Inu OSINT Initiative has the potential to avert future world crises like pandemics,” he added.

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