Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Saturday that medicine and a potential COVID-19 vaccine should be available where it is needed most, not only to “the highest bidder,” Reuters said.
“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 during a COVID-19 conference. “We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.”
On July 6th, the World Health Organization said 21 candidate vaccines were being tested on human volunteers in clinical trials. Experts in public health have warned against “vaccine nationalism”—where countries compete against each other to get the vaccine first — which they believe will have disastrous implications for both public health and the global economy.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed a total of $250 million towards COVID-19 research, “to support development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines… and help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the virus.”
In 2000, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, leaving his full-time job at Microsoft in 2008 to concentrate on foundation work. At a TED Talk in 2015, he cautioned that the world is not ready for a global pandemic.