(Reuters) – Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has called for COVID-19 drugs and a possible vaccine to be made available to countries and people who need it most, not the “highest bidder”, saying the Using market forces would prolong the deadly pandemic.
“If we let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of the people and places where they are most needed, we will have a longer, more unfair, and more deadly pandemic,” said Gates, founder of Microsoft. in a video posted Saturday at a COVID-19 virtual conference hosted by the International AIDS Society.
“We need leaders to make these difficult decisions about distribution based on equity, not just market factors.”
With hundreds of vaccine projects underway and governments in Europe and the United States investing billions of dollars in research, testing and manufacturing, there is concern that richer countries may pick up promising drugs against the new coronavirus, leaving developing countries empty-handed.
The European Commission and the World Health Organization have warned of unhealthy competition in the rush for a drug considered to be the key to saving lives and resolving the economic chaos wreaked by the virus, while officials in Washington have indicated that they would seek to prioritize US residents.
Gates said efforts to tackle the global HIV / AIDS crisis two decades ago when countries came together to ultimately make drugs available in most of the world, including Africa, can serve as a model to make COVID-19 drugs widely available.
As examples, he cited the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, established in 2002, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS, to provide drugs to populations to fight some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
“One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV / AIDS is the importance of building this vast global distribution system just to distribute the drugs to everyone,” said Gates.