Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Thursday laid out what the world needs from a Covid-19 vaccine in order to reopen society.
“Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this happen as quickly as possible,” Gates said in a blog post.
The vaccine only needs to be at least 70% effective to stop the outbreak, Gates said. He added that a vaccine that’s 60% effective is usable, but society would still see localized outbreaks, while anything under 60% is unlikely to stop the virus.
Gates said he’s optimistic a safe and effective vaccine could emerge in 18 months, though it could be as short as 9 months or up to two years. It also doesn’t have to be perfect at first, and it can take time to develop a refined vaccine.
Gates said that once a usable vaccine is ready to go, it should be distributed to health-care workers first and then to people in low-income countries. The world will eventually need 7 billion doses or more if it’s a multidose drug, Gates said. He added that the Covid-19 vaccine will likely become part of newborn immunization schedules.
Since it emerged, the coronavirus has infected more than 3.2 million worldwide and killed at least 227,971 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
″It might be a bit hard to see right now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re doing the right things to get a vaccine as quickly as possible,” Gates said.