The world will need 7 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to stop coronavirus pandemic, Bill Gates says
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is known for his philanthropic work around the world. Last month, we wrote about Gates after he stepped down from Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway Boards to focus more time on philanthropic priorities. Today, Gates wrote in a blog post that we will “need to manufacture and distribute at least 7 billion doses of the vaccine” to stop pandemic.
“In order to stop the pandemic, we need to make the vaccine available to almost every person on the planet. We’ve never delivered something to every corner of the world before. And, as I mentioned earlier, vaccines are particularly difficult to make and store,” Gates wrote.
Gates has been supporting many African countries by providing vaccines to eliminate treatable diseases. For example, in 2001, Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported the Meningitis Vaccine Project in Africa as part of the effort to eliminate the meningitis epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa by developing a new meningococcal vaccine.
For coronavirus, Gates says there are more than 100 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the pipeline. “I think that eight to 10 of those look particularly promising,” he said. Gates also talked about the time frame to develop new vaccines. “The downside is that they’re time-consuming to make. There’s a ton of material in each dose of a vaccine. Most of that material is biological, which means you have to grow it. That takes time, unfortunately,” Gates said.
Gates also quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci saying: “he thinks it’ll take around eighteen months to develop a coronavirus vaccine. I agree with him, though it could be as little as 9 months or as long as two years.” To address the longer development time, Gates went on to discuss RNA vaccine, a new approach to developing vaccine similar to the first vaccine to be tested in the United States under the supervision of Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Foundation.
Gates noted: “That’s why I’m particularly excited by two new approaches that some of the candidates are taking: RNA and DNA vaccines. If one of these new approaches pans out, we’ll likely be able to get vaccines out to the whole world much faster. (For the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to explain RNA vaccines. DNA vaccines are similar, just with a different type of genetic material and method of administration)”
Then there’s the question of prioritizing access to vaccines. “Most people agree that health workers should get the vaccine first,” Gates says. “But who gets it next? Older people? Teachers? Workers in essential jobs? I think that low-income countries should be some of the first to receive it, because people will be at a much higher risk of dying in those places.”
Gates says the World Health Organization and national health authorities will have to develop a distribution plan. Which raises a question that Gates doesn’t address in today’s posting.