Getting a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by second half 2021 would be “history-making achievement,” Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says.
The novel coronavirus pandemic will define the modern era in the same way World War II shaped an earlier generation, Gates says in a 11-page memo outlining his ideas on how best to tackle the disease. “This is like a world war, except in this case, we’re all on the same side,” he writes.
“A lot of people will be stunned that in many places we will go from hospitals being overloaded in April to having lots of empty beds in July,” Gates writes. “The whiplash will be confusing, but it is inevitable from the exponential nature of infection.” But as restrictions loosen, infections will flare and begin to grow rapidly at many sites…
More than 100 potential treatments are being studied — but most of them won’t work, Gates says. He ranks the antiviral drug remdesivir as one of the more promising prospects, along with plasma and antibodies from people who have recovered… The Gates Foundation is funding trials on hydroxychloroquine, the drug often touted by President Donald Trump, but Gates says it appears its benefits will be modest, at best… The only long-term solution is a COVID-19 vaccine. With greatly accelerated research, it could take as little as nine months — or as long as two years — to develop one, Gates says. Then it will have to be approved by governments and mass-produced so the world’s 7 billion people can each get one or two doses, depending on the vaccine type.
As most countries move into what Gates calls the “second phase of the epidemic” over the next two months, he foresees a “semi-normal” world. “People can go out, but not as often, and not to crowded places,” he says. “Picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table and airplanes where every middle seat is empty.” Schools will reopen, but not stadiums.
MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully the race to a COVID-19 vaccine will be won as quickly as possible because waiting until the second half 2021 or even longer, until the first half 2022, seems untenable (although we’re sure we’ll all adjust as best we can; humans are quite adaptable when push comes to shove). Here’s to this century’s Jonas Salk!