Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been devoting a lot of time in recent years to his charitable foundation, which he founded with his wife, Melinda. In March, he left the company’s Board of Directors for this purpose.
The Foundation finances various medical projects, including the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. After the start of the coronavirus pandemic, gates became the hero of conspiracy theories. All over the world, there are supporters of the idea that the disease appeared and spread thanks to him.
They believe that the billionaire wants to implant microchips in billions of people and, as a result, reduce the population of the Earth.
Bill Gates, in an interview with Free News, told what he thinks about these theories, and also shared his vision for the fight against coronavirus and universal vaccination.
Bill Gates: Our goal is to raise $ 7.4 billion, and any additional dollar or Euro we get will help us save lives. The importance of vaccines is now more evident than ever. But we don’t just need vaccines for diseases like measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia. GAVI [the Global Alliance for vaccines and immunization, supported by the bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] should also be involved in delivering the coronavirus vaccine to developing countries. We are raising money not only within the GAVI budget, but we have also opened a new Fund that will purchase a coronavirus vaccine for developing countries.
FN: Who should get the vaccine first?
BG: medical workers in countries where the epidemic continues should be the first to receive the vaccine. This is because they need to keep doing their jobs, save lives, and not be exposed to the severe risks they face now. Then there are the police and emergency services-workers in vital areas. And when they are protected, then you can go to the rest of the people. And if the vaccine is active on the elderly, which is the main criterion, then it will need to be sent to nursing homes, prisons, homeless shelters to reach those who are at high risk. This should be done on a global scale. Fortunately, we are going to build several factories in parallel, and we hope that production volumes will be high. But the distribution of vaccines will be an exciting task.
FN: If a vaccine is developed in the US or Britain, would local people want to be given it first?
BG: We work with all pharmaceutical companies that have sufficient production capacity. We tell them-even if your vaccine is not selected, can we use your facilities around the world to start producing this vaccine faster than ever before? And it is incredible how pharmaceutical companies agree with the words “even if our vaccine is not the best, we will provide our factories.”
FN: First of all, should it be given to health workers in the country where the vaccine was invented?
BG: If there is one plant that produces 300 million doses a year, the demand will be very high. There will be strict conditions, including who provided the funding and where the worst situation with the epidemic is. If we start production at 10 plants, we will be able to produce 3 billion vaccines a year. Then there will be no special restrictions, and the main problem will not be the production, but the delivery of vaccines.
FN: Who wants companies to make their patents public and provide open access to any information about the vaccine. But some say that licensing is enough, and the intellectual rights should remain with the Creator. Who do you support?
BG: Intellectual property rights are meaningless. A vaccine that has passed clinical trials for safety and effectiveness is required. These companies are doing this to help the world. They don’t do it with the idea that they will be able to benefit from the vaccine. They know that this is necessary for everyone. And no matter what conspiracy theories people come up with, the pharmaceutical industry is showing itself at its best—for example, AstraZeneca.
This can be said of all companies, but I will take it as an example. We advised [Oxford University scientists] to work together with a pharmaceutical company because you are excellent specialists, you work quickly, but in the matter of clinical trials and working with manufacturers, you need a pharmaceutical company, and they chose AstraZeneca. The combination of their abilities was incredible.
Our Fund works with AstraZeneca, and we ask them what the plan is for India, what the project is for China. So if the creation of the vaccine is successful, as we hope, then there is already a global plan for its mass production. AstraZeneca said it was not going to profit from this. She just wants to help the world.
FN: Let’s talk about the conspiracy theories that have flooded the Internet. Some of them mention you, suggesting that you want to take over the world through computer chips that people will get through vaccination. Do you think this could be harmful?
BG: If you look at all the gossip and anti-scientific statements that exist, Yes-it leads to inciting hostility between people. It’s disturbing that digital tools are being used for all this craziness at a time like this. When we eventually have a vaccine, we will need to achieve the formation of group immunity, so that about 80% of the population is vaccinated. But if they think it’s a Scam or that vaccines are harmful, and people don’t want to be protected, then the disease will continue to kill people.
So I’m a little concerned about the existence of all these crazy ideas. And I am somewhat surprised that some of these theories are about me. We donate money to create a tool; we write checks to pharmaceutical companies. As it happens, our Foundation has many specialists in the field of pharmacology, and we are considered an honest intermediary between the government and companies in terms of choosing the best method.
FN: This was probably partly due to your words when you said that it is necessary to know who has been vaccinated and who has not, and how it will be tracked.
BG: Yes, if we talk about the smallpox vaccine, it left a scar because it is mighty, and you could see people with such vaccination in the crowd. And to completely get rid of the disease, everyone needed to be vaccinated. Therefore, we can say that a miracle happened, since, in 1980, this disease was recognized as defeated. So if we talk about voluntary registration, yes, we are thinking about how to protect children from the disease, but this does not mean any chips or anything like that. Sometimes you want to laugh [because of some theories].
FN: How do we know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t?
BG: In rich countries, information is documented, and in emerging countries, data is recorded in paper documents. They are gradually switching to digital technologies, but not fast enough. In India, we test programs where information is stored in mobile phones so that specialists can understand whether a particular village has been covered.