In an interview with the New York Times, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates described optimism that the United States would ultimately help provide Covid-19 vaccines for poor countries around the world.
“It’s my disposition,” Gates said in the interview, published Monday. “Plus, I’ve got to call these people up and make the pitch to them that this really makes sense – and I totally, totally believe it makes sense.”
The Times said Gates was referring to leaders in the White House and Congress, who he has lobbied for $4 billion for Covid-19 vaccines for poorer countries.
“As they say,” Gates said, “the US government – after it’s tried every other thing – does the right thing.”
The Goalkeepers Report from the Gates Foundation, which published Monday, showed that a large number of deaths could be prevented if Covid-19 vaccines were distributed to all countries based on their populations, rather than to rich countries first. But Gates acknowledged that this will not be soon.
Gates said it “looks selfish” that the US avoided joining global Covid-19 vaccine development efforts and focused on deals with vaccine companies that ensure millions of doses are allocated to the United States, but he did not feel it was unjustified.
“You’re not going to succeed in getting the US to treat itself as just a random 5% of the world’s population,” Gates said, noting that American taxpayers have covered much of the costs for clinical trials and vaccine manufacturing.
Gates told the Times he expected by next year, regardless of who wins the election, the US would come around to paying much of the estimated $4 billion needed to get Covid-19 vaccines to others around the world. Congress has repeatedly kept funds for AIDS, malaria and childhood vaccinations in the foreign aid budget, Gates said, despite attempts to slash them; with the idea that no country is safe from Covid-19 until every country is, “there’s a better global argument for generosity on this one than there is for H.I.V. or malaria,” he said.