Melinda Gates says wealthier countries should stop 'hoarding' Covid-19 vaccines

Business Insider US
Melinda Gates

  • Melinda Gates told Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf that wealthier countries should stop "hoarding" Covid-19 vaccines.
  • She predicts the US may begin donating its supply.
  • Her interview during Financial Time's Global Boardroom event was pre-recorded before her divorce from Bill Gates was announced.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Wealthier countries should stop "hoarding" Covid-19 vaccines, Melinda Gates said in a pre-recorded interview with Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf during the publication's Global Boardroom event.

According to Gates, countries should vaccinate their population "up to a point," and then send both money and extra supplies out to countries in need, especially as some low-income nations "can't even vaccinate their healthcare workers."

"You don't need to vaccinate all the way down, say, to your teen population … before you send out vaccine doses to Covax," Gates said. Covax is the World Health Organization's campaign that was created to increase "equitable access" to the Covid-19 vaccines.

Currently, almost 32% of the US is fully vaccinated, while a little over 44% have received at least one shot, according to data from the CDC. Almost 41% of the US population at or older than 18-years-old is fully vaccinated.

Now, figures like President Joe Biden are under pressure to donate vaccine doses to India, which is currently seeing overrun hospitals and record-setting Covid-19 cases. About 9.4% of India's population is vaccinated, while only 2.1% are fully inoculated. Adults in India are currently eligible for the vaccine, but many states don't have enough doses to meet these demands, according to a report from BBC.

Now, Gates predicts the US could begin donating vaccines.

"I think the US government is looking at their supply of vaccines and deciding, okay how much of it should we do through Covax, how much should we do bilaterally," Gates said. "I think you're going to start to see some movement there."

Gates acknowledges that this "vaccine hoarding" in part comes from manufacturing issues like the location of the manufacturer, bottlenecks, and lack of materials. To combat this issue, Gates says vaccine production should take place in more locations around the world.

Her interview with the Financial Times was recorded before Melinda and Bill Gates announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage. However, the now-former couple will still continue their work with the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated almost $250 million towards Covid-19-response efforts.

Bill Gates - who has been accused of withholding vaccine formulas - previously said that complications with increased vaccine production could be attributed to difficulties related to creating vaccines in untested facilities (more so than issues with intellectual property laws that could be preventing vaccine formulas from being shared).

"There are only so many vaccine factories in the world, and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines," Gates said in an interview with SkyNews. "The thing that's holding things back in this case isn't intellectual property. It's not like there's some idle vaccine factory with regulatory approval that makes magically safe vaccines. You've gotta do the trials on these things. And every manufacturing process has to be looked at in a very careful way."

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