Melinda Gates has called on wealthy nations to stop “hoarding” coronavirus vaccines, saying it was disappointing how little was being done to prevent the pandemic from ravaging the developing world.
The US philanthropist told the Financial Times that developed countries should vaccinate their populations only “up to a point” before they donate supplies to those in greater need.
“You don’t need to vaccinate all the way down, say, to your teen population . . . before you send out vaccine doses,” Gates said in a pre-recorded interview with editor Roula Khalaf for the FT’s three-day Global Boardroom event.
“It’s incredibly unfortunate” that low-income nations were not receiving more shots, Gates said. Some “can’t even vaccinate their healthcare workers”.
Covax, the World Health Organization-backed mechanism to help poorer nations access Covid-19 drugs, needed $2bn in extra funding and more vaccine supplies, she said.
While she acknowledged leaders in the west were under domestic political pressure to protect their own citizens, Gates added there was a practical as well as a moral case for them to donate supplies.
“It benefits all of us to have the global economy reopen,” she said.
The former Microsoft executive added that while research and development of the vaccines had been remarkably successful, the global system for manufacturing them was “not working” and had created bottlenecks.
“We need to have manufacturing in far more places around the world so that we can get it [the supply] out and you don’t have this hoarding problem that we’re seeing right now.”
The interview was recorded before Melinda and Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, announced they were ending their marriage after 27 years.
The couple have ploughed much of their estimated $124bn fortune into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty around the world.