The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed $750 million towards the manufacturing and distribution a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University.
The funds come as part of a deal with British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, who’s joined forces with organisations fighting to protect the world against infectious diseases like COVID-19: the Serum Institute of India (SII); the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) — of which the latter two are directly funded by Gates.
Gates’ millions will support the delivery of 300 million doses of the vaccine, confusingly dubbed AZD1222, with the first shipments expected to begin by the end of 2020.
A separate licensing agreement with SII will see one billion doses sent to low-and-middle income countries, with 400 million supplied before 2021.
In total, AstraZeneca says it can manufacture two billion doses of AZD1222 “at no profit during the pandemic,” with the US and the UK reportedly scheduled to receive 300 million and 100 million doses already.
For Gates, this is about saving time, not money
The move is in line with Gates‘ strategy for fast-tracking a COVID-19 vaccine: simultaneously develop seven vaccines and hope one of them works — even if it “wastes” billions of dollars.
Indeed, there’s no guarantee that AZD1222 will actually prove effective. Not to mention, the first proof will reportedly come in August, at the earliest.
Still, Oxford University is starting Phase II/III trials of AZD1222 with about 10,000 adult volunteers. AstraZeneca noted there were late-stage trials due to begin in a number of countries.
“AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk,” said the firm.
Bill Gates says he’s not into any ‘microchip-type thing’
Gates has finally aired his frustration with a persistent conspiracy theory that posits the Microsoft co-founder secretly lusts to surveil the human race by implanting them with microchips posing as COVID-19 vaccines.
[Read: Elon Musk is 55% richer in 2020 — but Jeff Bezos is still tech’s billionaire daddy]
It sounds ridiculous (‘cos it is), but the whacky story has become a movement that’s uniting the wellness and tinfoil hat crowds with alarming efficiency.
“I’ve never been involved any sort of microchip-type thing,” Gates recently told Business Insider. “It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange.”