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Journalist criticizes Bill Gates over vaccine distribution

Freelance journalist Alexander Zaitchik told Hill.TV that Bill Gates’s efforts to ensure a more equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine have not been widely successful despite his overall contributions to global public health.

Zaitchik said the former Microsoft CEO has developed essentially a second career as a de facto “czar” in global public health as a main funder of the World Health Organization (WHO) and his organizations’ work fighting infectious disease. But he said Gates has not been a good spokesman for vaccine issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

“To the extent he has obfuscated that system failure with promises that the edges can be sanded down and tweaked with market incentives and market mechanisms, it’s going to be much harder to get past that system failure until we understand that role more clearly,” Zaitchik said.

The WHO has said the gap in vaccines administered in wealthy countries compared to those in poorer countries is becoming “more grotesque every day.” Several international organizations are seeking to push distribution of vaccines to those poorer countries through COVAX, a global initiative focused on equitable access to vaccines.

Zaitchik said Gates has sought to solve global vaccine supply issues through aggregating demand and wealthy countries’ charity. He said Gates took a significant risk in ignoring concerns about supply, which he said most public health researchers disagreed with.

“We missed a crucial year of being able to scale up and get the tech transfer where it should be to have global production at full capacity. And he’s basically said ‘trust me,’ and it didn’t work,” Zaitchik said.