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Bill Gates is funding new factories for 7 potential coronavirus vaccines, even though it will waste billions of dollars

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/3/2020 Isobel Asher Hamilton
a close up of a man wearing glasses © REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
  • Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates told The Daily Show that his foundation is funding the construction of factories for seven different candidates for a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Gates said that at most it would end up picking at most two out of the seven, meaning billions of dollars spent on manufacturing would be abandoned.
  • He said in a situation where the world faces the loss of trillions of dollars to the economy, wasting a few billion in an effort to help the problem is worth it.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates is plugging money into building factories for seven promising coronavirus vaccines, despite the fact it will mean wasting billions of dollars.

In a preview clip released from Friday's episode of The Daily Show, the Microsoft billionaire told host Trevor Noah that his philanthropic organization, the Gates Foundation, can mobilize faster than governments to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

"Because our foundation has such deep expertise in infectious diseases, we've thought about the epidemic, we did fund some things to be more prepared like a vaccine effort, our early money can accelerate things," said Gates.

Gates said he was picking the top seven from the available vaccine candidates and building manufacturing capacity for them. "Even though we'll end up picking at most two of them, we're going to fund factories for all seven just so we don't waste time in serially saying 'ok which vaccine works' and then building the factory," he said.

Gates said simultaneously testing and building manufacturing capacity is essential to reaching the best-case fastest developed version of a vaccine, which Gates believes could take about 18 months. In a Washington Post op-ed published earlier this week, Gates said that some of the top candidates require unique equipment.

"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. But a few billion in this situation we're in, where there's trillions of dollars [...] being lost economically, it is worth it," Gates said.

"We [the Gates Foundation] can get that bootstrapped and get it going, and save months because every month counts," he added.

Bill and his wife Melinda Gates have already pledged $100 million towards fighting the coronavirus, and the Gates Foundation has shipped at-home coronavirus test kits to people in Washington State.

In his Washington Post op-ed Gates also urged the government to enforce stricter lockdown measures in every state, and estimated that the US will need another 10 weeks of nationwide shutdown to effectively deal with the crisis.

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