In an interesting choice of venues, Bill Gates has just published his latest editorial in the Nikkei Asian Review, the English-language flagship of the Japanese financial publishing and data giant. In it, the billionaire Microsoft founder argues that the US and its European allies should dedicate more government funds for guaranteeing supplies of vaccines for poorer countries, which don’t have the wherewithal to strike deals like the $2 billion agreement that Washington struck with Pfizer.
Hoarding supplies of vaccines isn’t just wrong, Gates argues, it’s counterproductive – since the only way we can truly eradicate COVID-19 is to vaccinate everyone, in every country.
But it’s not just a question of donating supplies. The Western world and its leading corporations must collaborate with government to start ramping up supply chains to ensure that production of billions of doses of the vaccine can be produced quickly once emergency approval has been granted.
Because we can immunize against the disease, governments will be able to lift social distancing measures. People will stop having to wear masks. The world’s economy will start running again at full speed.
But elimination will not happen by itself. To achieve this goal, the world first needs three things: the capacity to produce billions of vaccine doses, the funding to pay for them, and systems to deliver them.
Right now, most of the world’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines is slated to go to rich countries. These nations have been making deals with pharmaceutical companies, securing the right to buy billions of doses as soon as they are produced.
But what about low- and lower-middle income nations of the world, everywhere from South Sudan to Nicaragua to Myanmar? These nations are home to nearly half of all human beings, and they do not have the purchasing power to make big deals with pharmaceutical companies. As things stand now, these countries will be able to cover, at most, 14% of their people.
To support his case, Gates cites new modeling from Northeastern projecting that the death toll will be twice as high if vaccines aren’t widely distributed in the developing world. – READ MORE
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