BILL Gates ripped United States leadership last week for "turning inward" during the coronavirus outbreak — as his wife, Melinda Gates, said Black people should get a COVID-19 vaccine first.
Speaking at the first virtual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy on June 18, Bill was critical of the US response to the pandemic and its poor contact-tracing efforts that would help contain the virus.
“Usually the United States plays a role in global problem-solving, so rather than withdrawing from [the World Health Organization], they’d be involved, collaborating with other countries, not just trying to cast blame," the Microsoft co-founder said.
"It’s a tricky situation, where the US sort of turned inward on this one."
As of Thursday, the US reported more than 2.4million coronavirus cases and over 126,000 virus-related deaths — and many states are reporting surges in infection numbers.
“We’re trying to stitch different country efforts together. The European leaders are trying to fill that vacuum," Bill said, adding that inaction from US leaders "erodes the kind of relationship and admiration and self-confidence that people have had in us as a country."
Bill, 64, said he was optimistic about three coronavirus vaccine candidates — from Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
He said the true test wouldn't be creating a vaccine, but would be manufacturing and distributing it to the world, as the globe "needs more than 10billion doses to vaccinate 80 percent of the population with a two-dose vaccine," per Forbes.
Melinda, who co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “One of the reasons we are so involved in this is that you don’t want the first vaccines to go to the highest-bidding countries."
“There are 60million healthcare workers [around the world]," she said. "They deserve to get the vaccine first, they’re the ones dealing with this on the front lines, trying to keep us all safe."
Melinda said that once healthcare workers get the vaccine, "You have to start to tier from there, based on the countries and the populations."
"Here in the United States, it’s going to be Black people who really should get it first and many Indigenous people, as well as people with underlying symptoms, and then elderly people.”
The pair said they will work with nonprofit organizations The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, along with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to help equally distribute vaccines in developing countries.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has said pledged $350million to the coronavirus response.
Earlier this year, Bill announced he was stepping down from the Microsoft board to focus on philanthropy.
In April, Gates praised China for their coronavirus response, saying the country “did a lot of things right at the beginning” of the outbreak, and called any focus on what's been claimed to be the country’s failures to handle it is a “distraction.”
He said “there’s a lot incorrect and unfair things said," and claimed that discussing China’s actions isn’t a “timely thing because it doesn’t affect how we act today.”
He added China acted properly, “like any country where a virus first shows up,” and said they “can look back and see where they missed some things.”
“Some countries did respond very quickly and get their testing in place and they avoided the incredible economic pain,” Gates said.
“It’s sad that even the US that you would have expected to do this well did it particularly poorly.”
Gates went on, telling CNN, however, that “it’s not time to talk about that.”
“This is the time to take the great science we have, the fact we’re in this together, fix testing, treatments, and get that vaccine and minimize the trillions of dollars in many things that you can’t even dimensionalize in economic terms that are awful about the situation that we’re in.”
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