Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said that vaccines and other drugs to treat Covid-19 shouldn’t go to ‘the highest bidder’.
The former Microsoft boss has been at the forefront of coronavirus research and says the drugs must go where they’re most needed.
That means not necessarily to the wealthier countries like the US and UK.
‘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 in a video released on Saturday during a virtual Covid-19 conference organised by the International AIDS Society.
‘We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.’
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Through his charitable organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has pledged $250 million (£198 million) to coronavirus research.
There are currently 21 possible vaccines for the coronavirus being run through clinical trials with humans at the moment. But public health experts have cautioned against developed nations competing to get hold of the medicine at the expense of others.
Gates pointed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculous and Malaria (which was established in 2002) as an example of how countries can come together to fight deadly diseases.
‘One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the importance of building this large, fair global distribution system to get the drugs out to everyone,’ he said.
Amazingly, despite all the hard work Gates has done to help find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, he has become a leading target for conspiracy theories surrounding the disease.
He has become the centre of a coronavirus conspiracy theory suggesting he is loading tracking chips into vaccines.
‘I’m kind of surprised that some of that is focused on me,’ he told BBC Radio 4.
‘We are just giving money away to get there to be a tool – we just write cheques to pharma companies (and) we happen to have a lot of the smart pharmaceutical expertise in our foundation, and are considered a fair broker between governments and the companies to help pick the best approach.’
Since leaving Microsoft, Gates set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife and turned completely to philanthropy.
They have tackled the likes of polio and malaria around the world and warned for years about the dangers of infectious diseases.
Addressing a TED Talk five years ago, Gates, 64, warned the next ‘global catastrophe’ would not be caused by war, but by a virus.
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