Bill Gates calls for COVID-19 meds to go to people who need them, not ‘highest bidder’

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said that relying on market forces would prolong the deadly coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Bill Gates calls for COVID-19 meds to go to people who need them, not ‘highest bidder’

  • ‘We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors’
  • There is concern that richer nations could scoop up promising medicines against the new coronavirus

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called for COVID-19 drugs and an eventual vaccine to be made available to countries and people that need them most, not to the “highest bidder,” saying relying on market forces would prolong the deadly pandemic.
“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Gates, a founder of Microsoft, said in a video released on Saturday during a virtual COVID-19 conference organized by the International AIDS Society.
“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.”
With hundreds of vaccine projects under way and governments in Europe and the United States investing billions of dollars in research, trials and manufacturing, there is concern that richer nations could scoop up promising medicines against the new coronavirus, leaving developing countries empty-handed.
The European Commission and the World Health Organization have warned of an unhealthy competition in the scramble for a medicine seen as key to saving lives and resolving economic chaos sowed by virus, while some officials in Washington have indicated they would seek to prioritize USresidents.
Gates said efforts begun two decades ago to battle the global HIV/AIDS crisis, when countries came together to eventually make medicines available in most of the world including Africa, can serve as a model for making COVID-19 medicines widely accessible.
As examples he pointed to the 2002-created Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the US-based President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief to get medicines to people to combat some of the world’s deadliest diseases as examples.
“One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the importance of building this large, fair global distribution system to get the drugs out to everyone,” Gates said.


UK PM says schools must open in September

Updated 21 min 36 sec ago

UK PM says schools must open in September

  • A study has warned that Britain risks a second wave of COVID-19 this winter if schools open without an improved test-and-trace system
  • The government wants all pupils to return to school by early September

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said reopening schools in September was a social, economic and moral imperative and insisted they would be able to operate safely despite the ongoing threat from the pandemic.
His comments follow a study earlier this month which warned that Britain risks a second wave of COVID-19 this winter twice as large as the initial outbreak if schools open without an improved test-and-trace system.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Johnson said restarting schools was a national priority. Schools would be the last places to close in future local lockdowns, he was quoted by another newspaper as telling a meeting on Thursday.
Schools in England closed in March during a national lockdown, except for the children of key workers, and reopened in June for a small number of pupils.
The government wants all pupils to return to school by early September in what Johnson has called a “national priority.”
“Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible,” Johnson wrote.
The economic costs for parents who cannot work if schools are shut are spiralling, and the country faces big problems if children miss out on education, the prime minister warned.
“This pandemic isn’t over, and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent. But now that we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so,” he wrote.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that he has ordered a public relations campaign to ensure schools open on time and told the meeting last week that they should be the last places to close behind restaurants, pubs and shops.