Bill Gates on when the coronavirus vaccine might be ready

Bill Gates on when the coronavirus vaccine might be ready

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has penned his thoughts on when the world will be able to get its hands on the vaccination for Covid-19, something that almost everyone is praying for to happen soon.

In his blog — that he has shared on this website ‘GatesNotes’ — Bill Gates has said that he agrees with NIAID director Anthony Fauci, who said that it may take around 18 months for the vaccine to be developed. However, on a more optimistic note, he said that “it could be as little as 9 months…” but at the same time he says that it could also take “as long as two years.”

While explaining the process of how traditionally vaccines are developed, Gates said, “Although eighteen months might sound like a long time, this would be the fastest scientists have created a new vaccine. Development usually takes around five years. Once you pick a disease to target, you have to create the vaccine and test it on animals. Then you begin testing for safety and efficacy in humans.”

However, for Covid-19, the approach is far more rapid. Firstly, there is no issue in terms of financing development as governments and organisations have extended their support to do whatever it takes to find the vaccine, Gates points out.

Also, scientists are already testing different approaches at the same time for Covid-19. “As of April 9, there are 115 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the development pipeline. I think that eight to ten of those look particularly promising,” said Gates.

He also said that he expects that initially the vaccination that gets developed may not be perfect but it will get the job done — just as it was in the case of smallpox. “If we were designing the perfect vaccine, we’d want it to be completely safe and 100 per cent effective. It should be a single dose that gives you lifelong protection, and it should be easy to store and transport. I hope the COVID-19 vaccine has all of those qualities, but given the timeline we’re on, it may not,” said Gates.

On his blog, he also mentioned that the issue doesn’t stop at just the manufacturing of the vaccine, but also ensuring that it is available to almost every person on the planet in order to stop the pandemic. “The reality is that not everyone will be able to get the vaccine at the same time. It’ll take months—or even years—to create 7 billion doses (or possibly 14 billion, if it’s a multi-dose vaccine), and we should start distributing them as soon as the first batch is ready to go,” said Gates.

Despite listing all the forthcoming challenges, Gates said that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. “We’re doing the right things to get a vaccine as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I urge you to continue following the guidelines set by your local authorities. Our ability to get through this outbreak will depend on everyone doing their part to keep each other safe.”

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