Bill Gates, who donated $1.75 billion to COVID 19 vaccine development and fighting the pandemic, said this week that vaccines aren't durable enough and should be better at preventing infection.
Microsoft founder, whose net worth is $135.9bn, made comments on a Twitter discussion with Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
Gates said that the vaccines we have to have prevent severe disease and death are missing two key things that would make the biggest difference in ending the epidemic.
They allow infections to 'breakthrough' first and the duration appears to be limited. We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration. According to a recent University of Copenhagen study, the rapid spread of the omicron variant, which is now responsible for 98.3% of new cases in the United States, is likely due to its ability to better evade immunity offered by vaccines and prior infection.
Gates said that omicron will challenge health systems as it becomes the dominant strain in other countries around the world, but may allow health officials to start treating COVID- 19 the same way they track endemic viruses like influenza.
Gates said that Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Snchez urged European leaders this week to treat COVID 19 as an endemic virus rather than a pandemic, saying that health officials in Spain will soon start tracking it the same way they do the flu.
Nadhim Zahawi, the former British minister for vaccine deployment and current education secretary, told Sky News on Sunday that he hopes that the United Kingdom will be one of the first major economies to demonstrate how it will transition from the Pandemic to endemic. Gates gave a prescient Ted Talk in 2015 warning of the threat of a pandemic, saying that if anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades it is most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. His philanthropic organization, the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, donated $1.75 billion to fight the pandemic and develop COVID 19 vaccines.
Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population older than 5 are fully vaccinated against COVID - 19 and 79.2% have received at least one dose, according to CDC data. Of those who are fully vaccinated over the age of 18, 39.8% have received a booster dose.