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INTERVIEW BEYOND20


‘Whereapersonlives shouldn’tdetermine whetherthey live’


AN EVEN ROLLOUT OF THE VACCINE IS THE RIGHT AND THE SMART THING TO DO, SAYS JOE CERRELL OF THE GATES FOUNDATION


lenge in restoring, rebuilding and restarting the global economy. If you have pockets where this pandemic is still raging, it’s going to be much more difficult to restart the economy. More recently, with this emergence of vari-


ant strains of the virus, if we have places where we’re just neglecting coverage of the vaccine, we’re going to see more mutations and more challenges. So, from the moral, the economic, and epidemiological standpoint, it really makes sense to be thinking in a much more global way about distribution of these tools.


Q A


cine, but also to guarantee a fair and equita- ble access to the vaccine across the globe. “It’s the right, but also the smart thing to do,” Joe Cerrell, the managing director of the founda- tion, tells fDi.


T Q


health work, we believe that where a person lives shouldn’t determine whether they live. Too oftenwe’ve seenthat there are gross inequi- tieswhen itcomes to accessing life-saving medi- cations and healthcare. So, when it comes to the rollout of Covid vaccines, we believe that there should be equityandfairness. It shouldn’t be a small number of rich countries that are primarily able to get some of these tools. We should have an ability to think on a


A


more global basis. That’s themoral case. I think there’s also a self-interest, more economic case that’s starting to emerge. There’s a huge chal-


40


: Why is it important for the global com- munity to guarantee fair and equitable


access to a Covid-19 vaccine?


: Equity is at the heart of everything that the Gates Foundation does. In terms of our


he Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation not only spearheaded the global communi- ty’s efforts to develop a Covid-19 vac-


: How would you assess the global response to these challenges so far?


: We’ve seen a big gap between the rheto- ric and the reality. Many leaders are agree-


ing that there needs to be a more global roll- out of some of these tools. The reality is that it’s been slower. It’s challenging. We knew that the logistics


of trying to distribute vaccines to billions of people is unprecedented; we knew that it was going to be a challenge that was almost as dif- ficult as the scientific discovery of the vaccine in the first place. It’s not a huge surprise.When it comes to multilateral platforms, Covax and Gavi, and the ability to get the vaccine to low- income countries, we’re going to start seeing a lot moreactivity in the later part of this quarter and in the early second quarter. The goal is to get 1.3 billion doses into the


lowest income countries by the end of the year. It’s an ambitious but realistic target. And it’s more a floor than the ceiling, so I hope we can do better than that.


Q A


: What is the real incentive for countries to deal with platforms like Covax, rather than seeking theirownbilateral agreements?


: One reason is for their own vaccine supply and Covax provides an ability to hedge the


risks. Perhaps they can get access to more vac- cines than they would through the bilateral deals that some countries have been able to. It’s a wider platformof potential vaccines. Andthe secondincentive is to just be part of this platformthat helps make sure that there’s


www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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