Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said he doesn’t expect a coronavirus vaccine to become available by the end of the year, bucking President Donald Trump’s previous statements that one would be ready by the November election.
“None of the vaccines are likely to seek approval in the U.S. before the end of October,” said Gates in a recently published interview with CNBC. “I do think once you get into, say, December or January, the chances are that at least two or three will (seek approval) — if the effectiveness is there.”
“And so we have these phase three trials that are going on. The only vaccine that if everything went perfectly, might seek the emergency use license by the end of October, would be Pfizer,” he continued.
Gates and his wife Melinda head the world’s largest private foundation and have been monitoring the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of this year — before the disease made its way to the U.S. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with, and funded, several drug makers in March, including Pfizer. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Gates has poured billions of dollars into at-home test kits and vaccine trials across the world, while also being very critical of the president for his response to the virus.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that if a vaccine is approved, the company will be prepared to hand out “hundreds of thousands of doses.”
However, when President Trump announced a vaccine for the virus that has killed nearly 195,000 Americans to be ready by election day, many critics and experts wondered if safety protocols were rushed in turn for political promises made by the current administration.
In a tweet, the president wrote, “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics […] Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”
In the CNBC report, Gates doubted that a large pharmaceutical manufacturer would seek a vaccine approval without proof of large-scale effectiveness, citing a letter signed by nine of the top drug makers pledging to follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration procedures.
“We also have to go through all the safety steps so that people feel like they want to participate in taking this vaccine,” said Gates.