Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visits the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Research Site in Masiphumelele on the South Peninsula of Cape Town, South Africa on Feb. 7, 2020. (Gates Foundation Photo)
The head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says he’s hopeful that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available by the end of this year — if all goes well.
“We can say, with some confidence, this is going to be the fastest vaccine ever developed in human history,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Seattle-based foundation.
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There are more than 100 vaccine projects underway, he said, and 11 vaccines are in clinical trials. Historically, the most rapid approval of a vaccine was for mumps and took four years.
To create successful COVID vaccines will require significant funding and regulations that allow for accelerated testing of multiple drugs simultaneously, Suzman said. And once the drugs become available, there will be challenges in producing many doses quickly and distributing them equitably and safely — they could require refrigeration not readily available in parts of Africa or Southeast Asia — to the far corners of the world.
Suzman was speaking as part of an international, live-streamed panel titled “Could Our Response to COVID Help End Poverty?” on Thursday. The event was hosted by GZERO Media, a subsidiary of Eurasia Group, a leading political risk analysis firm.
Other key takeaways from the conversation:
The most successful COVID responses came from countries large and small, rich and poor. They are unified in their pursuit of scientifically-based, expert-led responses that united their leaders and avoided politicizing the disease. They include: Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Norway, Greece, Vietnam and Argentina.
Africa has exceeded expectations in fighting COVID; …read more