Bill Gates may have stepped down from Microsoft but he isn't stepping out of the limelight. The billionaire stated that healthcare professionals and other critical workers could be receiving their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as 18 months "if everything goes well."
Yikes. That means you have a little over a year to find yourself a new job if you're in that field!
Numerous organizations around the globe are racing to be the first one with a vaccine for the virus. Once one is created, it will go straight to healthcare professionals before it is given to the general population.
"The first vaccines we get will go to health care workers and critical workers," Gates wrote on Reddit. "This could happen before 18 months if everything goes well."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the backers of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a group providing funding to scientists working on a novel coronavirus vaccine. The organization announced a seventh COVID-19 project on Wednesday.
Gates' timeline is in line with projections by officials. The head of the National Institutes of Health's infectious-disease wing, Anthony Fauci, has told reporters that the process will take 12 to 18 months.
Moderna, a Massachusetts biotechnology company that's received support from CEPI, launched the world's first human trials for the novel coronavirus earlier this week. The company uses a technology called messenger RNA, which has never yielded an approved vaccine.
"Some use a new approach called RNA which is unproven," Gates stated on Wednesday. "We will have to build lots of manufacturing for the different approaches knowing that some of them will not work. We will need literally billions of vaccines to protect the world. Vaccines require testing to make sure they are safe and effective."
He also shared a letter he wrote in 2015 about how the United States wasn't ready for "the next epidemic."
"What I've learned is very sobering," Gates wrote. "As awful as this epidemic has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease—an especially virulent flu, for example—that infects large numbers of people very quickly. Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic."
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