The Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform is a business-to-business (B2B) “information bridge” that matches medical suppliers and their products with affected hospitals and authorities.
“Alibaba will post the specifications of needed medical supplies, including types, models and quantities of products, based on information collected from hospitals and local authorities. Suppliers can provide information about the products they can offer. Once the supplier is verified and the goods [are] certified as an acceptable match, Alibaba will begin the procurement process,” according to a company statement.
Goods bought through the platform will be routed to hospitals based on the level of urgency. Industry partners will expedite the shipping, handling, customs clearance and delivery.
“Our goal is to connect the global supply chain with those in need of supplies in a more expedited and efficient way,” Alibaba said in an open letter to worldwide suppliers. The letter also outlined a pledge that the platform would be “accurate and transparent” and that it would “promptly and efficiently” connect with suppliers using the platform.
For purchases, Alibaba will tap into an RMB1 billion ($142.8 million) fund launched on Jan. 25, two days after the city of Wuhan was quarantined.
As of Feb. 3, Alibaba had delivered medical supplies from 15 countries and regions, including self-purchased and donated goods, to 18 hospitals in the Hubei, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
More than 28,000 people have been infected with the Coronavirus, the majority of them in China. The death toll in China is now 564 as the outbreak goes into its third week, per the World Health Organization.
Two Americans were among 10 additional passengers confirmed on Thursday (Feb. 6) to have the Coronavirus on a cruise ship quarantined in a Japanese port. The number of infections inside the U.S. has also increased, with officials in Wisconsin confirming the state's first case.
The travel bans stemming from the outbreak could end up costing the U.S. economy $10.3 billion in lost tourism dollars.