Health

Melinda Gates: European leaders understand need for global cooperation

If theres any chance of global cooperation in the coronavirus fight, Bill and Melinda Gates are pinning their hopes on Europe.

The first couple of Microsoft, whose foundation is the largest private underwriter of public health initiatives, are hoping the EU can step in to fill a leadership void left by the U.S. and guarantee that a vaccine or medicines, once available, are deployed fairly — especially to frontline health workers first.

The Gates Foundation is working closely with the European Commission on a pledging conference on Monday intended to generate €7.5 billion in financing for tests, medicines and vaccines against the virus.

In an interview with POLITICO, Melinda Gates said the foundation views Europe as key to bringing international players to the table and preventing the wealthiest countries from putting their own needs first.

“Thats why you see us focusing with Europe,” Gates said. “Its the European leaders, quite honestly, who understand that we need global cooperation.” She added: “I think theyre doing the very best they can do in this situation.”

“The worst situation would be, if [and] when these tools are available, they go to the highest bidder — that would be terrible for the world” — Melinda Gates

The pledging event may turn out to be mostly a PR exercise — with Commission officials already saying they will count donors expenditures since January 30 toward their goal. But Gates said that she hopes it also leads to a more cohesive, worldwide approach by governments, pharma and global health groups, especially concerning fair distribution of a vaccine.

“The worst situation would be, if [and] when these tools are available, they go to the highest bidder — that would be terrible for the world,” she said.

Health care workers around the globe need to be first in line to get a vaccine when its developed, Gates said.

She also urged individual countries to recognize that just because they “solve” the outbreak within their own borders, they could quickly face a resurgence coming from a less fortunate nation still fighting the disease.

“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere,” she said, “and thats why its got to take global cooperation.”

In the interview, Gates did not call out U.S. President Donald Trump directly, but she defended the World Health Organization against recent criticism, which has come most loudly from the White House.

The couples foundation is a major funder of the WHO, and Gates said that a time would come to review its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. But she praised the WHOs historic record in helping eradicate infectious diseases and said political leaders right now should focus on overcoming the crisis. “You dont take something down in the middle of a crisis,” she said.

“Theres no institution thats perfect,” Gates added. “Everyone will need to do a post mortem when were out of this crisis … but you dont do that during a crisis.”

Bill and Melinda Gates have faced plenty of criticism themselves, though. Vaccine skeptics redirecting their conspiratorial views at the coronavirus outbreak have targeted Bill Gates for his global health work, claiming he is using the virus — or even created it — to generate money for Big Pharma or to Read More – Source
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