Bill Gates is plugging money into building factories for seven promising coronavirus vaccines, despite the fact it will mean wasting billions of dollars.
In a preview clip released from Friday’s episode of The Daily Show, the Microsoft billionaire told host Trevor Noah that his philanthropic organization, the Gates Foundation, can mobilize faster than governments to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
“Because our foundation has such deep expertise in infectious diseases, we’ve thought about the epidemic, we did fund some things to be more prepared like a vaccine effort, our early money can accelerate things,” said Gates.
Gates added he was picking the top seven from the available vaccine candidates and building manufacturing capacity for them.
“Even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven just so we don’t waste time in serially saying ‘ok which vaccine works’ and then building the factory,” he said.
Gates stated that simultaneously testing and building manufacturing capacity is essential to reaching the best-case fastest developed version of a vaccine, which Gates believes could take about 18 months. In a Washington Post op-ed published earlier this week, Gates said that some of the top candidates require unique equipment.
“It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don’t get picked because something else is better. But a few billion in this situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars […] being lost economically, it is worth it,” Gates said.
“We [the Gates Foundation] can get that bootstrapped and get it going, and save months because every month counts,” he added.
Bill and his wife Melinda Gates have already pledged $100 million towards fighting the coronavirus, and the Gates Foundation has shipped at-home coronavirus test kits to people in Washington State .
In his Washington Post op-ed Gates also urged the government to enforce stricter lockdown measures in every state, and estimated that the US will need another 10 weeks of nationwide shutdown to effectively deal with the crisis .