Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Saturday that drugs and a future vaccine to treat COVID-19 should go where they are most needed, not just to “the highest bidder,” Reuters reported.
“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Gates said (remotely) during a COVID-19 conference. “We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.”
The World Health Organization said July 6th there were 21 candidate vaccines in clinical trials being tested on human volunteers. Public health experts have cautioned against “vaccine nationalism” —where countries vie against each other to get a potential vaccine first— which they predict would have dire consequences for both public health and the global economy.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged a total of $250 million toward COVID-19 research, “to support development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines... and help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the virus.”
Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000 and left his full-time role at Microsoft in 2008 to focus on the foundation work. In 2015, he warned during a TED Talk that the world was not ready for a global pandemic.