In an april 30 blog post updated on the GatesNotes website, Bill Gates explained that eight to 10 of the more than 115 studies showed hope for the fight against coronaviruses. In addition, once a “perfect” vaccine has been developed to prevent COVID-19 disease, it is likely to be part of routine immunization programmes for newborns. The bigger challenge, however, is to produce 7 billion copies and distribute them as soon as possible.
In fact, as early as five years ago, Gates had warned the world during his TED speech. The speech hit the internet again after the current source of the still-unclear COVID-19 disease spread.
It is reported that after stepping down as a Microsoft executive, Gates, together with his wife, devoted himself to the Gates and Melinda Foundation’s philanthropy, and in how to deal with infectious diseases on the matter has accumulated some experience of cooperation.
For public health reasons, it is even willing to risk billions of dollars of water to develop vaccines and provide logistical support.
In a more detailed blog post, Gates also cited data from the Alliance for Epidemiological Preparedness and Innovation, claiming that the number of COVID-19 vaccines currently under study is at least 115, and that 8 to 10 of them look promising.
Even so, the Gates and Melinda Foundation will focus on other areas to avoid missing out on any products that could yield positive results.
As mentioned earlier, the Foundation will fund the development of seven of these projects, including the plants and supply chains required for mass production.
Even if only one or two vaccines are eventually available for mass vaccination, these projects will be carried out in parallel.
In a blog post, Gates stressed that even if the vaccine can be ready for rapid roll-out within the next nine to two years, its safety must be guaranteed and explained the three vaccine development techniques.
The first is that some research teams are working on inactivated or detoxified vaccines, and although the development route is traditional, the techniques for testing and manufacturing are relatively mature.
Then there’s the new vaccine technology, which uses DNA or RNA materials, and Gates is clearly more excited about the progress.
The RNA vaccine works by not injecting pathogen antigens into the body, but instead giving the body the genetic code it needs to produce the antigen.
When antigens appear outside cells, the body’s immune system attacks them and learns how to defeat potential future intruders in the process.
In other words, the technology transforms the human body itself into a vaccine producer.
Gates noted that the foundation has been working on RNA vaccines for other diseases, including malaria, for nearly a decade, and that the first candidate to enter human trials is The mRNA vaccine for Moderna.
Earlier this week, we learned that BioNTech in Germany has partnered with Pfizer to conduct another mRNA trial. Previous reports also detail another DNA-based vaccine produced by Inovio, supported by the Gates and Melinda Foundation.
Gates explained that RNA vaccines are much easier to make, but face greater challenges in distribution. Rna vaccines must be stored in an environment of -80 degrees C (-112 degrees F) compared to conventional vaccines that can be stored in a 4oC (39OF) environment.
Even if the first vaccines are not perfect, the world is still on track to achieve 60% immunization coverage. In the meantime, researchers can be reassured to develop better-performing vaccines that will enable safer vaccinations for newborns in the future, while older people may need to take more doses.
Finally, vaccine development and approval is only part of achieving this long-term goal. After all, making and distributing vaccines that are used by 7 billion people around the world is a particularly daunting task in itself.
In response, Gates wants to vaccinate health care providers first, and then consider low-income countries with weak public infrastructure, where people face a higher risk of death.
On the supply chain side, Gates reiterated that the foundation is conducting billions of dollars of research and wants to work with more agencies and enrich funding sources such as CEPI, WHO and governments.