World’s richest man, Bill Gates, has said that in order for the world to better contain the spread of the coronavirus, leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies should provide more funding to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
He stated this in an opinion piece provided in South Korea on Sunday, Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, noted that COVID-19 had not yet affected many low- and middle-income countries and world leaders, particularly G-20 members, should step up efforts to keep it that way because it would “likely be only a matter of time before one part of the planet reinfects another.”
Gates, through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been an active philanthropist and has made donations to the fights against diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, and malaria.
The businessman, Gates laid down three steps for global leaders: ensuring proper distribution of resources such as masks and diagnostic tests, offering research and development (R&D) funding for a vaccine, and then manufacturing and delivering the vaccine.
Gates further stated that it would funding the vaccines would be difficult for the member sates considering the present economic reality but he added some hard choices should be made to curtail the Coronavirus.
“The private sector has an important role to play, but if our strategy for fighting COVID-19 devolves into a bidding war among countries, this disease will kill many more people than it has to; we need to deploy resources based on public health and medical need.” Gates added.
Gates said veterans of the Ebola and HIV epidemics could help develop guidelines for that, and that world leaders should work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to put them on paper to hold all participating countries accountable.
He said Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and various governments, was developing “at least eight potential vaccines” for COVID-19, with expectations that at least one would be ready within 18 months.
He also said that many nations have contributed to CEPI within the past two weeks, but the Coalition needed at least U.S.$2 billion for their work.
“That’s only a rough number — innovation is an unpredictable business — but the G-20 leaders should make meaningful pledges now,” he added.
He stated that funding should not stop there because the price tag does not include the cost of manufacturing and delivering the vaccine.
“We aren’t sure which vaccines will be the most effective yet, and each requires unique technology to make.
“That means nations need to invest in many different kinds of manufacturing facilities now, knowing that some will never be used.
“Otherwise, we’ll waste months after the lab develops an immunization, waiting for the right manufacturer to scale up,” he said.
Gates said any COVID-19 vaccine must be classified as a “global public good” and remain affordable and accessible for both the poor and the rich people.