August 7, 2020 11:05:02 pm
With the most number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, the United States is facing criticism for its belated measures in containing the spread of the virus. The latest to remark on the country’s response to the pandemic is Microsoft founder Bill Gates who said the country’s performance was “disappointing” and said the “majority of all US tests are completely garbage”.
In an interview to Wired, Gates, who has been supporting the development of several vaccine candidates, has said he expected the the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to do better in dealing with the outbreak.
“You would expect the CDC to be the most visible, not the White House or even Anthony Fauci. But they haven’t been the face of the epidemic… They have basically been muzzled since the beginning,” he said.
On the efficiency of, and delay in, Covid test results, Gates said the labs are making “ridiculous money” with the assurance of reimbursements despite delaying the results, rendering “majority of all US tests completely garbage, wasted”.
“If you don’t care how late the date is and you reimburse at the same level, of course they’re going to take every customer. Because they are making ridiculous money, and it’s mostly rich people that are getting access to that. You have to have the reimbursement system pay a little bit extra for 24 hours, pay the normal fee for 48 hours, and pay nothing [if it isn’t done by then]. And they will fix it overnight,” he told Wired.
Gates expressed optimism with the prospect of a reliable vaccine. Through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has provided financial support to several leading vaccine candidates, including the one being developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University.
“For the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing (novel coronavirus) by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022. That is only because of the scale of the innovation that’s taking place,” he said in the interview.
However, the philanthropist reiterated that more effective vaccines might take a little longer to develop. Gates said he was hopeful that along with vaccines, effective treatments for novel Coronavirus would also be developed which would help in saving large number of lives.
This, even as US President Donald Trump said it was possible that a vaccine was made available even before November 3, the date Americans will vote to elect their new President. Trump is seeking a re-election.
On Friday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also decided to provide $150 million in at-risk funds towards helping the Serum Institute of India rapidly manufacture the Covid-19 vaccines developed by the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax. As part of this new agreement, SII will be responsible for delivering up to 100 million doses of the vaccines priced at $3 — around Rs 225 — a dose for India and low- and middle-income countries.
By all current indications, a novel Coronavirus vaccine is likely to become available by early next year. If that happens, it would be the fastest vaccine to be ever developed. Usually, it takes several years, sometimes over a decade, to produce a vaccine. However, the speed at which the efforts to find a Coronavirus vaccine has progressed, sometimes by cutting corners of regulatory processes, has led to unease about the safety of the vaccine candidates.
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