Bill Gates on development of COVID-19 vaccine – Countries need to work together more than ever

Vaccines and drugs for treating coronavirus

indica News Bureau-


Co-founder of Microsoft, and noted philanthropist Bill Gates, on Thursday, in his blog discussed the importance of developing a vaccine for novel coronavirus that is at least 95% effective and how the vaccine needs to be developed soon. He also stresses upon the importance of global cooperation for finding a cure for COVID-19.

He said that things will only return to normal ” when we have an almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19, or when almost every person on the planet has been vaccinated against coronavirus.”

He added that as there was no cure found that reached 95% or higher effectiveness, the need for a vaccine becomes more prominent and all the countries need to work together to develop such a vaccine that builds immunity against the novel coronavirus.

“Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus. Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this happen as quickly as possible.

That sounds daunting because it is. Our foundation is the biggest funder of vaccines in the world, and this effort dwarfs anything we’ve ever worked on before. It’s going to require a global cooperative effort like the world has never seen. But I know it’ll get done. There’s simply no alternative.”

Throwing light on the undergoing trials and misses among scientists and researchers and medical professionals who are working to find a vaccine in the shortest time possible, he wrote, ” 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.”

Explaining the working of the immune system of the body and how vaccines work, he wrote, ” When a disease pathogen gets into your system, your immune system responds by producing antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to substances called antigens on the surface of the microbe, which sends a signal to your body to attack. Your immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, so that it can quickly recognize and destroy invaders before they make you ill. Vaccines circumvent this whole process by teaching your body how to defeat a pathogen without ever getting sick.”

He then explained about the two common types of vaccines—are inactivated and live vaccines.

“Inactivated vaccines contain pathogens that have been killed. Live vaccines, on the other hand, are made of living pathogens that have been weakened (or “attenuated”). They’re highly effective but more prone to side effects than their inactivated counterparts,” he wrote.

Advocating RNA vaccines, that work with genetic codes of viruses, instead of injecting pathogens and giving rise to antigens, Gates said that his foundation has been supporting the development of an RNA vaccine platform for nearly a decade.

“…rather than injecting a pathogen’s antigen into your body, you instead give the body the genetic code needed to produce that antigen itself. When the antigens appear on the outside of your cells, your immune system attacks them—and learns how to defeat future intruders in the process. You essentially turn your body into its own vaccine manufacturing unit. Because RNA vaccines let your body do most of the work, they don’t require much material. That makes them much faster to manufacture,” he wrote.

But he added, ” Even if an RNA vaccine continues to show promise, we still must continue pursuing the other options. We don’t know yet what the COVID-19 vaccine will look like. Until we do, we have to go full steam ahead on as many approaches as possible.”

He further pondered over the number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that might be needed, if it’ll be long-lasting or of a short duration that only works for a couple of months and how it needs to be stored. These are some of the questions that still need to be worked out.

Talking about issues like transporting the vaccine to different parts of the world, and the cost involved, he said that governments of the world and WHO need to figure out the financing to purchase and distribute the new vaccine. “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. I think that low-income countries should be some of the first to receive it, because people will be at a much higher risk of dying in those places.”

He added that hopefully, the vaccine will be ready in 18 months, as Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

“My hope is that the vaccine we have 18 months from now is as close to “perfect” as possible. Even if it isn’t, we will continue working to improve it. After that happens, I suspect the COVID-19 vaccine will become part of the routine newborn immunization schedule.”