- Microsoft co-founder said seven potential vaccine makers will receive funding
- He said the foundation aims to accelerate development of a vaccine for the virus
- Comes after $20million was pledged to three institutions for research
Bill Gates is spending billions of dollars building factories to develop a vaccine against coronavirus.
The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropic billionaire said seven vaccine makers had secured funding but admitted that mountains of cash may be lost before a cure is found.
He revealed the mammoth investment on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah after answering questions about the virus that has paralyzed the globe.
The Microsoft co-founder revealed seven vaccine makers had received funding during an interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show
The philanthropic billionaire said he hoped the money would accelerate vaccine development
‘Our early money can accelerate things,’ Gates said. ‘Even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven.
‘(It’s) so that we don’t waste time in serially saying which vaccine works and then building the factory.
‘The only thing that really lets us go back completely to normal and feel good about sitting in stadiums with lots of other people is to create a vaccine and not just take care of our country but take that vaccine out to the global population.’
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirmed they were exploring using funding to ‘get the process (of building vaccines) moving’.
‘Many of the current vaccine approaches are novel and have never been scaled for a commercialized product,’ they said.
‘Enhancements of global manufacturing capacity are clearly required given the population-level scale at which a Covid-19 vaccine will need to be given.’
The Foundation has already awarded $20million to three institutions in the US and UK to fund clinical trials aiming to study the effectiveness of repurposed drugs in combating coronavirus.
The recipients are the University of Washington, University of Oxford and La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
‘These grants to leading institutions in their fields will advance our understanding of how existing drugs and antibodies can contribute to addressing the pandemic we’re facing around the world,’ said the Foundation’s chief executive, Mark Suzman.
Pictured are the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the US since January up until now
President Donald Trump stands in front of a chart labeled Goals of Community Mitigation showing projected deaths in the United States after exposure to coronavirus during the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington on March 31
Speaking to Fox News yesterday, Gates said the pandemic is a ‘nightmare scenario’ but that fewer Americans will die than the 240,000 predicted if the government changes the way it tests people.
He has pushed for a nationwide shutdown, limited domestic travel and administering more targeted testing to stop the overflow of patients at hospitals unable to cope with the surge in numbers.
‘Well, if we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with the death number well short of that,’ Gates told Fox News Sunday.
‘This is a nightmare scenario because human-to-human transmittal respiratory viruses can grow exponentially. And you know, if we had kept on going to work, traveling like we were, you know, that curve would never bend until you had the majority of the people infected and then a massive number seeking hospital care and lots of lots of deaths.’
The US is predicted to see its worst day in the coronavirus outbreak in 11 days when more than 2,000 people are expected to die.
Bill Gates said: ‘If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with the death number well short of that’
While there are strict international travel restrictions, Gates focused on the importance of domestic boundaries too.
‘Well, when you have finite resources you need to allocate them to where there’s the most need,’ Gates told host Chris Wallace. ‘Certainly because people move around the country, we have to have the shutdown or else you’ll have exponential growth. It will spread back into other parts of the country.’
The outbreak was identified in Wuhan, China in November with the first case in the US January. As early as February, before any lockdowns, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $10million to help fight the virus.
Gates has criticized the government’s delay in taking precautions and serious action after the outbreak.
‘Between 2015 and 2020, less than 5 percent of what should have been done was done,’ Gates said.
Gates is pictured in a 2015 TED talk where he warned about ‘microbes’ being the enemy in the next pandemic. ‘Between 2015 and 2020, less than 5 percent of what should have been done was done,’ Gates said Sunday
But he said compared to a disease like small pox, COVID-19 ‘isn’t the worst case’.
‘The one percent mortality rate when your system is not overloaded… if that was small pox that would be 30 percent,’ he explained.
‘So this is super, super bad, but we will eventually get a vaccine. Even before then, if we do the right things we’ll be able to open up significant parts of the economy,’ he said.
‘Once you’re in the crisis you’re doing your best to deal with this.’
He added: ‘I’m sure you know, once we get past this, we’ll look back, understand what we could have done differently, and make sure that we’re not letting it happen again, particularly because it could be even worse in terms of the fatality rate.’
As many as 1,277,962 cases of coronavirus have been detected worldwide, according to John Hopkins University, and 69,527 deaths linked to the disease have been reported so far.
Italy has been the worst affected, reporting 15,887 deaths, followed by Spain that has seen 12,641 deaths and France that has recorded 8,078 deaths due to coronavirus.
New York has recorded the seventh highest number of deaths due to coronavirus worldwide at 3,048 at the time of writing.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that any American can be tested for coronavirus as long as a doctor approves it.
The move appears to expand upon previous criteria needed for testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But how do you determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and when you should see a doctor?
We break down everything you need to know about being tested for the virus that has infected more than 120 Americans and killed at least nine.
WHAT ARE THE LATEST GUIDELINES FOR BEING TESTED?
There are three groups of people that the CDC recommends get tested.
1. People with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath who have been in ‘close contact’ with someone confirmed to have coronavirus
2. Patients with symptoms who have traveled to areas affected by the virus within the last 14 days
3. Those with symptoms who need to be hospitalized and no other cause for their illness is found. They don’t need to have a travel history or exposure to another patient
HOW DOES THIS DIFFER FROM THE PREVIOUS CRITERIA?
When the CDC first began testing, only those with a travel history to China – where the outbreak emerged – or those who had been exposed to a confirmed coronavirus patient were tested.
However, the agency says its criteria for testing is always ‘subject to change as additional information becomes available.’
WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED A TEST?
Health officials strongly advise that anyone who believes they may be infected not show up unannounced at their doctor’s office in case they expose others to the highly-contagious disease.
Instead, the CDC suggests immediately calling your physician or healthcare provider.
‘Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19,’ the CDC’s website states.
If you are suspected of having the virus, you will most likely get tested at a hospital.
The test involves getting a swab of the patient’s nostril and throat. If the patient has a wet cough, a sample of sputum (a mixture of saliva and mucus) will also be collected.
WHY HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO GET TESTED?
There have been multiple reports of people not having accessing to get tested.
The first batch of test kits that the CDC sent to state and local health departments were faulty, which led to a delay.
Secondly, the CDC had strict criteria for testing, which led to missed diagnoses of people who caught the virus from so-called ‘community spread,’ meaning it’s unknown how they were infected.
A third reason is that some health departments did not leave the decision to test up to doctors as the CDC suggested.
For instance, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health initially required doctors to call a hotline to determine if their patients met CDC criteria for testing.
Then, before the test could be administered, it had to be authorized at the State Public Health Lab.
WILL IT BE EASIER TO GET TESTED NOW?
Since the CDC’s testing fiasco, several health departments have either received new kits from the federal agency or made their own.
Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration expanded its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) policy so allow more labs can apply for approval to test for the virus.
The CDC that 75,000 test kits are currently available and more are being manufactured.
FDA Commissioner Dr Stephen Han told reporters on Monday that close to one million people would be tested by the end of the week.
But figures from the Association of Public Health Laboratories show that likely no more than 100,000 people would be tested by week’s end.