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.
‘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 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.
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.
Gates believes that by obtaining test results within 24 hours, the US will be able to quickly identify those an infected person has come into contact with so they can be isolated and slow the spread.
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.