Bill Gates does not want to spoil the party
- Author Anselm Anyoha
- Published May 3, 2020
- Word count 519
Answering questions during an interview on CNN in the evening of April 30, 2020, billionaire Bill Gates said that, as much as he is praying and working hard with other stakeholders to make Covid-19 vaccines available in the future, it is not an easy task. He pushed back on rumors circulating in some circles accusing him of betting against Covid-19 vaccines. "I wouldn’t do such a thing, and I do not have anything to lose if the world were to have a vaccine tomorrow," said the founder of Microsoft. He was just realistic, he said.
A lot of work and preparation goes into the making of a vaccine. Of paramount importance is determining whether a particular vaccine would be effective. Nobody wants a half-baked vaccine that would worsen the disease that it was supposed to prevent. Strict guidelines are required, Bill Gates said, before a vaccine is deemed suitable to be used in humans, especially those who are healthy. Think about the prospect of injecting a substance that could endanger the safety of a healthy person, he said. No vaccine regulator would want to take that risk.
Answering questions from Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bill Gates emphasized that vaccine regulators would only support a vaccine if it is proven to be safe and effective in humans, not just in animal models like monkeys. Progress made so far in the race towards a vaccine for Covid-19 has been very impressive, he said, but even if research steps line up and researchers are lucky, he does not see Covid-19 vaccines rolling out before 2021.
Bill Gates pointed out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert and leader of President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, agrees with his position on the timing prospect of a Covid-19 Vaccine. After the vaccine is developed, the next step would be thinking about how to make it in a large enough quantity to get to people who need it the most.
Responding to a question by Dr. Gupta as to whom and which countries should first get the vaccine when it becomes available, Bill Gates said that the issue of distribution is ultimately going to be worked out by the World Health Organization (WHO). To help them in this decision, the WHO uses specific guidelines: which countries financed the vaccine research, which countries participated in the human trials, and which countries are being hardest hit by the virus. Rationing of the vaccine is a possibility if it is in short supply, he said. A cheap and plentiful vaccine supply may not need any rationing and could reach anyone who needs it.
Without an effective vaccine, people’s way of life will dramatically change, he said. Meanwhile, Covid-19 testing with same-day results, isolation of people who test positive, and follow up and quarantine of their known contacts, in addition to other precautions (social distancing, hand washing, etc.), should continue.
As people wait and pray for a Covid-19 vaccine, no country, even those as hot as Nigeria, is exempt from this virus, said Bill Gates. Every country should prepare for their moment of onslaught.
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