Bill Gates has been a polarising figure during the coronavirus pandemic, but now the billionaire philanthropist has reason to be hopeful.
Speaking to CNN, Gates explained how he felt ‘almost all’ of the coronavirus vaccines in development will be ready by February next year.
The first two vaccines expected to be granted FDA approval in the US are the ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna. But Gates says the others in development – from the likes of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – will also be successful.
‘Almost all the vaccines will work and with very high efficacy levels,’ Gates told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
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‘I’m optimistic that by February it’s very likely that they’ll all prove very efficacious and safe.’
Despite the optimism, Gates cautions that the winter ahead will be difficult for many people.
‘We should be very worried about the next six months,’ he said.
Although speaking in the US, Gates’ warning is just as important here in the UK. A report prepared for the government by the SAGE advisory group, estimates that a ‘worst-case’ scenario could see up to 85,000 people die from Covid-19 this winter.
It was written based on predictions that government tracing, isolation, and quarantine methods will only prove to be 40% effective in controlling the spread of the virus in public.
Still, the authors maintain there’s ‘a wide range of uncertainty’ about the actual outcome and the figure is not a prediction, just the worst-case scenario.
Even with lifted restrictions, people are urged to be sensible and not mix with others unless absolutely necessary.
Gates himself says he will be planning a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with a video connection for family members not present.
He also urged Americans to wear masks and social distance as the vaccine development and production continues.
‘You know, try not to have your family be the last death in this pandemic because you’re willing to see it through until the spring, which is when the vaccine will really start to cut the numbers down,’ he said.