Billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has kept his finger on the pulse when it comes to coronavirus, and now he’s revealed when we can expect to see a vaccine.
Gates, whose philanthropic organisation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has spent billions funding several drug manufacturers in order to save time on producing a vaccine, said we could see a vaccine sooner than we think.
“Early next year,” Gates told Yahoo Finance US editor-in-chief Andy Serwer at the All Markets Summit.
“With any luck, we’ll have two or three of the six that are in phase three trials right now. The Pfizer has a good chance of being among the first of those - they’re a very experienced vaccine company and designed their study very well.”
Gates also expected AstraZeneca, the UK drug company which would likely supply Australia with Covid-19 vaccinations should they pass trials, as well as Johnson and Johnson, Novavax, Moderna and Sanofi to come through with vaccines early next year.
It was recently revealed that an AstraZeneca volunteer of the clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine died, but Gates said this was “not surprising” in the normal course of trials.
“Even if of the first six, two or three get approved, their effectiveness in terms of stopping you from being sick and stopping you from transmitting may not be perfect.”
‘We won’t be back to normal’
While it’s likely that there will be enough of the Covid-19 vaccine to ensure that this time next year we’re in a better place than we are today, Gates said we still won’t be back to normal.
“We’ve got to get 70 per cent-plus of the population vaccinated by then to really drive the numbers down, and as long as this disease exists anywhere in the world, the chance of reinfection will always be there,” he said.
But this could prove difficult, with Gates saying many people have begun to spin harmful conspiracy theories about potential vaccines.
“The wave of wild stories about the vaccine, that it’s a conspiracy based in evil intent, often referring to either myself or Dr [Anthony] Fauci - that is a wild new element I wouldn’t have expected,” he said.
“So you do have to ask, ‘is that going to mean things like mask wearing or willingness to take the vaccine are affected?’ I'm still hopeful that there’s 30 per cent of the population who understands this is to benefit other people, and so they'll go first.”
The co-founder said it would also be vital to connect with poorer countries to ensure vaccines are distributed there, too.
The US’ infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, told the All Markets Summit that the US was still experiencing its first wave - albeit a long one.
“I look at it more as an elongated — and an exacerbation of — the original first wave,” he said.
“We started to see a peak that brought us up to around 70,000 per day...Now as we're getting into the cold weather, we came back up again to the worst that we've ever had, which was over 80,000 per day.”
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