Three of the leading six coronavirus vaccines currently will probably work by early next year, Bill Gates said on Tuesday, setting an optimistic timeline for the development of the vaccine and distribution of the doses.
Making this assessment, the Microsoft co-founder told Times of India that he expects some of the vaccines will work very well by next year, although how they work in terms of blocking transmission or avoiding sickness will still have to be studied.
“Because of the need to get them (vaccines) out, we want to go to full volume manufacturing on many of these constructs. I think most of the world will want to see a vaccine that’s been reviewed by a top-notch regulator, which generally is the USFDA or Europe or UK,” he said.
Researchers are currently testing 38 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 93 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals across the world.
Singling out the vaccines being developed in China and Russia, he said that while those too may work, the regulatory mechanism there is not up to par with the west yet.
“We’ve been in lots of conversations with the companies in India over the vaccines that look like they’ll be low cost and very scalable, including AstraZeneca, Novavax, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson,” he said.
Several of these pharmaceutical companies have already partnered with vaccine makers in India, including the Serum Institute of India, which is the world’s largest producer. The company’s CEO, however, had dampened hopes of a vaccine being widely available quickly, saying he expects it won’t be available to all before end of 2024.
Gates also talked about the spread of the coronavirus in India, and said it was a harder challenge to control the pandemic here because of the high density cities and since a lot of the work is not the kind of office work that’s easily done over an internet connection.
“And so there are very difficult trade-offs of what you do in terms of economic activity versus trying to stop the disease spread. I don’t envy the Indian leaders that tough decisions,” he said. He predicted tough days ahead for the country if the models are correct about the number of cases over the next couple of months.