Gates appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” on Thursday for a 22-minute interview regarding the novel coronavirus and revealed to host Trevor Noah that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to working against time when it comes to finding a vaccine.
The Microsoft co-founder explained that instead of tackling vaccine candidates one-by-one, a total of seven options would be concurrently investigated at separate factories to accelerate the research process.
"Even though we'll end up picking - at most - two of them, we're going to fund factories for all seven, just so that we don't waste time in serially saying, 'OK, which vaccine works?' and then building the factory," he told Noah.
"It'll be a few billion dollars we'll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don't get picked because something else is better.”
Examining it from an economic perspective, Gates argued that spending a few billion from the foundation for the sake of time is “worth it,” considering the fact that “trillions of dollars” are at stake.
“Our foundation, we can get that bootstrapped and get it going, and save months, because every month counts,” he said, highlighting that his foundation has less red tape and procedural hoops to jump through than federal health agencies.
Earlier this week, the foundation’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator initiative awarded $20 million grants to the University of Washington, University of Oxford and La Jolla Institute for Immunology “to fund clinical trials in order to identify highly potent immunotherapies for the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“These initial investments through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will bring rigor to the study of these potential solutions. The way forward will be informed by sound science and shared data,” Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in the March 30 release.