Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the world in 2020, leading to over 75million cases globally and over 1.6million deaths. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft has spent the better parts of the year working with scientists to tackle the pandemic.
While it appears there is no end in sight to the pandemic, Gates is optimistic that there is good news coming in 2021.
According to his tweet, humans have never made more progress on any disease in a year than the world did on COVID-19 this year. Under normal circumstances, he said creating a vaccine can take 10 years but this time, multiple vaccines were created in less than one year.
Gates’ reasons to be hopeful
- One is that masks, social distancing, and other interventions can slow the spread of the virus and save lives while vaccines are being rolled out.
- In the spring of 2021, the vaccines and treatments you’ve been reading about in the news will start reaching the scale where they’ll have a global impact.
- Although, there will still be need for some restrictions (on big public gatherings, for example), the number of cases and deaths will start to reduce – at least in wealthy countries – and life will be much closer to normal than it is now.
2021 will be better than 2020. Here’s why: https://t.co/mYbpl5wwF1
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 22, 2020
Where the pandemic stands now
- There are two vaccines, one developed by Moderna, the other by Pfizer and BioNTech – which have received emergency approval in the U.S.
- The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has also been approved in the U.K. and other countries, and several other companies will probably be announcing results of clinical efficacy trials soon.
Why many companies were willing to take the risk this time
Gates explained that the companies saw a chance to use their expertise to help end the pandemic, as it also helped others step up to bear some of the financial risk. He said,
- “In some cases, it was a national government, such as the U.S. or Germany. In others it was the group called CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, which is funded by our foundation and several government and philanthropic partners. Of course, developing the vaccines themselves is only part of the challenge. And it may not even be the hardest part.”
What you need to know
The success of the first two vaccines also bodes well for many of the other candidates. Virtually, all of the vaccines now undergoing efficacy studies attack the same part of the novel coronavirus as the first two do (It’s the protein that spikes out of the virus, giving the coronavirus its crown-like shape as well as its name).
- “Despite this basic similarity, the various vaccines use different approaches to attacking the virus. The ones developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech involve what’s called mRNA technology – an approach our foundation is intimately familiar with, because we’ve been funding research on it since 2014 as a way to create vaccines for malaria and HIV. It’s great that the technology is now allowing unprecedented progress on COVID-19.
- “It’s no accident that mRNA vaccines were the first out of the gate. By design, this type of vaccine can be created faster than conventional ones. It works by using messenger RNA to deliver instructions that cue your body to produce the distinctive spike protein. Then your immune system kicks in and attacks anything with that spike on it, including the COVID-19 virus,” Gates added.