Bill Gates said that COVID-19 vaccines should be distributed equally, not to those who can pay the most money.
The co-founder of Microsoft spoke this weekend at a distance conference organized by the International AIDS Society.
“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, rather than the people and places where they are most needed, we will have a longer, more unfair and more deadly pandemic,” said Gates. “We need leaders to make these difficult decisions about distribution based on equity, not just market factors.”
Gates said he was still optimistic about countries defeating the COVID-19 epidemic, highlighting advances in science and previous vaccination efforts with the HIV crisis.
“One of the best lessons to be learned in the fight against HIV / AIDS is the importance of building this vast global distribution system just to distribute the drugs to everyone,” he said.
“Vaccine nationalism” is a term used to describe potential tensions on countries that have access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking at a TED2020 virtual event last month, Gates said it was unlikely that vaccines would be widely available before the end of the year. The three most distant vaccines are being tested by Moderna (with the help of a first Seattle-based clinical trial), Johnson & Johnson, and a team including AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Other perspectives are also progressing.
Gates suggested adopting an intercompany approach to produce the best vaccines from clinical trials. “Then you use the manufacturing plants of many companies to get the maximum scale of the best choice,” he said at the TED event.
Although most of Gates’ career has been devoted to turning Microsoft into a technological behemoth (and turning into the second richest individual in the world), he and his wife, Melinda, have focused on the issues of global health over the past two decades. In recent years, he has sounded the alarm about the potential for a global viral epidemic – most famous at a previous TED conference in 2015.
Now he comments on the progress of the pandemic almost every week from his home base in Seattle via video links with media ranging from TED to CNN to The Daily Show at Comedy Central.
The Gates Foundation has committed $ 250 million to fight COVID-19.