Bill Gates has urged the United States to focus on a more global approach to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the development and procurement of a vaccine for less developed countries, as the nation leads in research.
The Microsoft Corp founder and philanthropist said they were trying to make sure to end the pandemic not just only in rich countries, as he encouraged congressional lawmakers to consider adding $8 billion to the economic relief bill which is currently being debated.
He added that the bill will be dedicated to the procurement of an eventual vaccine for Covid-19, for countries and nations that were less- developed, reported the Bloomberg
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than $350 million toward Covid-19 research. Much of that money has gone toward funding not only research but also the manufacturing capacity that will help a vaccine be distributed globally.
In particular, Gates said, he has funded vaccine development efforts by AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc., which on Tuesday reported promising early trial data.
"Those are the ones most scalable and low-cost," Gates said.
Around the world, there are well over a hundred vaccines in development, with more than two dozen in human clinical trials. As it becomes clear that vaccines are the best hope for reining in the pandemic and allowing countries to fully re-open their economies, nations are scrambling to get access to supplies.
Gates joins many others expressing growing concerns over "vaccine nationalism" in which one nation prioritises producing and stockpiling vaccines for itself. His foundation has invested in an entire portfolio of potential Covid-19 therapies and vaccines, including a vaccine being developed in South Korea.
He believes a vaccine will likely be approved by the beginning of 2021, though that may be a "stop-gap" primarily available to wealthier nations. More effective vaccines, Gates said, may take longer to develop.
"The initial vaccine, in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission, won't be ideal and may not have a long duration," he said.
In the meantime, he said he is optimistic that many therapies in development to treat the virus may help significantly reduce the death rate of the virus.
"Innovation in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines will get us largely out of this by the end of 2021," Gates said. "The true end comes when between natural infection and a vaccine we have this herd immunity."