Ethereum Founder Donated $1 Billion to Fight Covid in India, but Only $20 Million Has Been Spent

The co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, Vitalik Buterin, donated roughly $1 billion in a Shiba Inu-themed cryptocurrency to a covid-19 relief fund in India in May 2021. So far, according to Bloomberg, just $20 million or roughly 2% of the original commitment has made it to its donation.

India has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in dense cities where average citizens often struggled to gain access to basic medical services well before the virus began circulating and engulfed hospitals and clinics with a never-ending deluge of patients. In April, when the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus began hitting its peak in India, tens of thousands fell ill a day, crematories were overwhelmed in cities like New Delhi, and funeral pyres burnt 24/7.

The country is now estimated to have surpassed 31.5 million confirmed cases with over 422,000 deaths, though these numbers are widely considered an undercount.

Researchers from the U.S.-based Center for Global Development have estimated total excess deaths during the pandemic in India could be in the range of 3.4 million to 4.7 million.

Many Indian survivors of the virus have been left trapped with potentially insurmountable medical debt, according to the Associated Press, and just 25% of the population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Nailwal told Bloomberg the fund has “been in preparation for the third wave” of the virus. Despite rising case numbers, many state governments across India have loosened restrictions, with the South China Morning Post reporting that courts and medical associations have been among the sole institutions urging caution against reckless decisions.

The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been broadly hostile to cryptocurrency and was reportedly considering legislation to make it a crime to mine, trade, or even hold cryptocurrencies like bitcoin earlier this year. Although a bill was introduced, it went nowhere, and as of June 2021, the central government was still in the process of working out how any potential regulation should work.