Bill Gates has published a great post on his blog dedicated to the discoveries and achievements in 2020, the year by which it is hoped that 2021 will be more enjoyable. Here are the 12 main reasons he highlighted.
1. High speed of vaccine development.
In 2020, pharmaceutical companies managed to create and test two vaccines at once. Gates notes that previously, humanity has not been able to get so far in the fight against the disease in just a year. If earlier it usually took about 10 years to create a vaccine, this time several were created at once during the year.
2. People have largely resigned themselves to the use of masks and social distancing.
Although not 100% of people wear masks and keep their distance, in most cases, people have adapted and accepted these conditions. Gates also added that these measures should be maintained during the mass vaccination phase to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
3. The vaccine is preparing to go global.
The epidemic has long gone to the global level, but with the start of the use of vaccines, treatment should also go to the global level. There are many difficulties on this path, but the billionaire expresses confidence that they will be surpassed.
4. More Vaccines Ahead.
The successful development of two vaccines implies the possibility of creating others, Gates said. Given that different companies are working in several directions, the probability of creating new safe and effective drugs is high.
5. The world is ready to share the financial risk.
Financial risk is one of the main reasons why vaccine development usually takes so long. But in the case of COVID-19, a multitude of organizations stepped in to spread the risk. In some cases, it was the government (as in the United States and Germany), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) fund, founded by Gates, in which he invested $ 388 million to fight coronavirus infection, played a significant role.
6. Companies go to unprecedented agreements.
After the development of a vaccine, the next major test is mass production. Companies will need to double production in just a year to meet demand. But there is hope – it is in special agreements between pharmaceutical companies around the world. Gates notes: “It’s hard to overestimate how rare this is. It’s like imagining that Ford would offer its Honda plant to build new Accords.”
7. Logistics remains a serious problem, but there is hope.
Producing 5-10 billion doses of vaccine is a challenge in itself, but it also needs to be delivered to everyone in need. It is difficult both financially and logistically. So far, this stage is just ahead of us, but Gates expresses the hope that the problem can be solved by helping the rich countries to the poorer ones.
8. The number of sceptical people is decreasing.
Even before the pandemic, there were many people sceptical about vaccinations of any kind, but the world situation has made it possible for some of them to reconsider their views. In his opinion, public leaders, scientists and doctors are making a lot of efforts to reverse this situation. On the other hand, conspiracy theories (including those concerning Gates himself and his wife Melinda) are slowing the process down, but Gates believes the positive momentum will continue.
9. The number of treatments is also growing.
Gates also mentioned progress in the field of therapy: in particular, the use of certain types of steroids and monoclonal antibodies for treatment. As with the vaccine, mass production and logistics are an important next step. To this end, the Gates Foundation signed an agreement under which Fujifilm Diosynth will produce antibodies developed by Eli Lilly. Then they will be supplied to countries with an average and low standard of living with appropriate pricing.
10. Progress is observed in tests too.
Gates highlights the development of less invasive tests for COVID-19. Probably, soon it will not be necessary to endure sticks in the throat. The US FDA has approved the first type of fully home diagnosis for use. It does not require sending material to the laboratory and works almost instantly – almost like a pregnancy test.
11. Developing countries are better off than anticipated.
Like many scientists, Gates worried that the epidemic in developing countries would spiral out of control. In fact, the rates of morbidity and mortality in tropical Africa are lower than in the United States and Europe. But the good news is darkened by the fact that COVID-19 has weakened initiatives to treat AIDS, malaria and other diseases in these countries. As a result, while the coronavirus was not a serious problem on its own, it triggered a whole host of other problems.
12. Countries transcend divisions to tackle the pandemic.
The world has come together to tackle this global problem – and this could herald further joint work on other important issues, including global warming.