Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates stuck an oar into tinfoil-hat-infested waters once again today with a pretty reasonable plan to deal with the ongoing global pandemic.
In an opinion piece for Tortoise Media, His Billness laid out a three-part plan for eliminating the grim threat of coronavirus and, unsurprisingly, it all hinges on those pesky vaccines.
Gates reckoned that likely more than one vaccine will be available by the early part of next year, but dealing with the pandemic would first require the capacity to make enough of the stuff, and then ensure a global reach for dosages.
"Right now," he said, "most of the world's supply of COVID-19 vaccines is slated to go to rich countries." Those countries at the other end of the scale are not so lucky: "As things stand now, these countries will be able to cover, at most, 14 per cent of their people."
Taking the ethics and morality of the situation aside, the result, according to Gates, is the virus continuing its rampage through large chunks of the world and wealthy nations risking reinfection because, after all, not everybody will leap at the chance of a needle stuffed full of special sauce. "The only way to eliminate the threat of this disease somewhere is to eliminate it everywhere," insisted Gates.
"New modeling from Northeastern University helps illustrate what will happen if vaccine distribution is so unequal. The researchers there analyzed two scenarios. In one, vaccines are given to countries based on their population size. Then there’s another scenario that approximates what’s happening now: 50 rich countries get the first 2 billion doses of vaccine. In this scenario, the virus continues to spread unchecked for four months in three quarters of the world. And almost twice as many people die."
Top 5 billionaires find that global pandemics are good for business – and their walletsREAD MORE
"This would be a huge moral failing. A vaccine can make Covid-19 a preventable disease, and no one should die from a preventable disease simply because the country they live in can’t afford to secure a manufacturing deal," he added.
As well as upping manufacturing capacity (and noting the unusual sight of pharmaceutical companies sharing facilities), Gates also called for more funding to pay for both the vaccines and infrastructure to get doses to patients. "There's a lot to be learned from the ongoing effort to eradicate polio," he said. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation knows a lot about polio.
Gates has been forced in recent months to deny that his support for vaccine research is actually a cover for something altogether more nefarious. Lurking within the recent Windows XP source code leak were all manner of conspiracy videos, and social media posts concerning Gates' involvement in the spread of the virus have fanned the flames licking up those 5G (or, indeed, 4G) masts. When asked in a recent interview if he wanted to use vaccines to implant microchips into people, the billionaire responded simply: "No."
Indeed, in terms of tracking people and controlling their moods, the social media giants are already way ahead of the game.
Gates went on to point out that building the system to identify and eliminate COVID-19 regardless of a nation's wealth will also give the world a running start when the next pandemic rolls around.
"The self-interested thing and the altruistic thing," he said, "are one and the same." ®