Bill Gates calls for equitable coronavirus vaccine distribution

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned against distribution of the coronavirus vaccine starting with those who can pay the most. He made the remark during a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society.

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Bill Gates on coronavirus vaccine distribution

CNBC reports that Bill Gates said coronavirus vaccine distribution should go to those who need it the most instead of "the highest bidder." He added that leaders are needed to make difficult decisions about distributing the vaccine "based on equity, not just on market-driven factors." Further, he said if the coronavirus vaccine and treatments go to the highest bidder instead of to the places and people who need them the most, "we'll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic."

Companies and countries are racing to release a COVID-19 vaccine, and some have gotten concerned about wealthier nations getting more vaccines and treatments than developing countries. Some are calling for coronavirus vaccines to be treated like public goods for anyone without profit.

Several vaccine candidates in testing

According to the World Health Organization, there are 21 vaccine candidates in clinical trials undergoing testing on human volunteers. Three of those vaccine candidates are in the third phase of their trials.

U.S.-based Moderna, U.K.-based AstraZeneca and China-based Sinovac Biotech are the furthest along in developing coronavirus vaccine candidates. However, Moderna faces a setback as it said recently that its late-stage trial will be pushed back a few weeks.

Pfizer is also working on a vaccine candidate with BioNTech, although while their candidate did result in immune responses in healthy patients, it also caused side effects like a fever.

Bill Gates: fair distribution for coronavirus vaccine needed

Bill Gates said the need for fair distribution for the coronavirus vaccine is one of the main takeaways from the battle against AIDS and HIV 20 years ago. He said the battle has revealed how significant it would be to create a fair global distribution system so the vaccine and treatments would become available for everyone.

Gates sees the AIDS crisis as a model in providing equitable access to COVID-19 drugs and making them available more widely. He said global cooperation in the form of "resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they're needed most is critical."

"When we have those things, nations, institutions and advocates working together on this collective response, we do see remarkable impact," he said.