Melinda Gates says we may get vaccine by end of year ‘if we’re lucky’

Scientists and health officials could find an effective vaccine to prevent Covid-19 by the end of this year “If we’re lucky,” billionaire philanthropist and former tech executive Melinda Gates told CNBC on Tuesday. .

Producing a usable vaccine is a long process that requires careful study of viable vaccine candidates, Gates told Sara Eisen of CNBC in an interview on “Closing Bell”.

“Then to be sure, okay, when we put it in our bodies, it won’t create more harm,” said Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who donated $ 100 million to the coronavirus vaccine and treatment efforts. “So yes, we could have one of these candidates if we are lucky by the end of the year.”

Even if scientists discover a vaccine in record time, they still need to make millions and possibly billions of doses of the vaccine for the general public, said Gates. There are more than 7.6 billion people worldwide and some of the vaccines in development require more than one dose.

“We have never, never seen a globe making a vaccine of this type or of this scale before. So it is not a quick or fast process,” she said.

There is no proven treatment for Covid-19, and US health officials have repeatedly stated that production of a vaccine would take no earlier than a year to 18 months. More than 100 vaccines in development worldwide as of April 30 according to the World Health Organization, with at least eight candidate vaccines already being tested in humans. World health experts say that only part of these vaccines is likely to be successful.

Gates’ comments come hours after White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told members of Congress that he was optimistic that scientists would be able to find a viable vaccine candidate, but also warned that “there is no guarantee that the vaccine will actually work.”

“You can have whatever you think is in place and you don’t induce the type of immune response that turns out to be protective and lastingly protective,” Fauci said of vaccines during a hearing with the Senate committee. health, education, work and pensions.

He continued, “So one of the big unknowns is, will it be effective? Considering how the body reacts to viruses like this, I am cautiously optimistic that we will get along with one of the candidates an efficiency signal. “

Another concern among epidemiologists, said Fauci, is that the vaccine backfires and reinforces the virus.

There have been at least two vaccines in the past that have produced a “suboptimal response,” he said. “And when the person is exposed, they actually have an increased pathogenesis of the disease, which is always worrying. So we want to make sure that doesn’t happen. These are the two main unknowns.”

Gates said she was “following” the progress of Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the University of Oxford, each of which produces a potential vaccine to fight the coronavirus. The virus has infected more than 1.3 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Oxford researchers last month said they hoped a vaccine would be available by September, even before the trials prove its success

“There are good signs of light and hope,” said Gates. “But we all have to remember as Americans, there is, you know, it’s a process.”

Read live updates from CNBC to see the latest news on the Covid-19 epidemic.

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