Bill Gates: ‘I feel very confident’ COVID-19 vaccine is safe
Philanthropist Bill Gates, who has contributed millions of dollars to the research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine, said Thursday that he is “very confident” in the safety and efficacy of a Food and Drug Administration-approved immunization.
The remarks, made during an appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” came before Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Friday that they had officially applied for emergency use authorization for their vaccine candidate, which final data revealed to be 95 percent effective against the virus.
“It’s clear that the FDA went through the professional staff there, all the things that they are supposed to, likewise Pfizer, there’s even an external committee that will weigh in just to make absolutely sure that the political desire to get this quickly did not infect the efficacy and safety review,” Gates said Thursday, when asked about the doubts surrounding the vaccine.
“I feel very confident because the people involved are really doing their job well,” Gates added.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 20, 2020
Earlier in the fall, critics and prominent Democrats such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed doubts about a vaccine that would be approved under the Trump administration after the president had spoken of a vaccine that would be ready before the November election.
The president’s remarks prompted critics to worry about the politicization of a vaccine.
However, public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that the accelerated timeline was not feasible after Trump made the remarks.
Following the data released by Pfizer earlier this week, Fauci expressed confidence in the vaccine’s efficacy.
“The very impressive efficacy — 94.5 and 95 percent — of a vaccine should motivate individuals to realize that this is something you’ll want to participate in,” he said at a White House press conference on Thursday.
Gates on Thursday argued that if the majority of the American population receives the dosage, it could be enough to stop the infection’s spread.
“With measles, you’d have to get to like 95 percent because it’s even more infectious,” Gates explained. “But the good news here is that we just need that majority and I think as people see people taking the vaccine and they see that the side effects, if any, are very, very rare, that confidence will build.”
“That will be good for society, because when you take the vaccine, you’re helping protect other people,” he added.
Gates also said that the reason anti-vaccination conspiracy theories that have surged on social media recently is because “a simple explanation for this pandemic, that there is somebody evil behind it, is somehow easier than the true biology, which is actually kind of complicated.”
“We have to make the truth more interesting and we’ve got to label things with the truth,” he said.
New York, California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada have all pledged to establish independent panels of experts that will review FDA data on an approved vaccine before allowing it to be distributed to residents.
Trust in a vaccine has increasingly grown due to the breakthroughs made by Pfizer, as well as Moderna, whose candidate vaccine has shown to be 94.5 percent effective based on interim data.
However, some skeptics have continued to advance safety concerns, with others perpetuating the false claim that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
Fauci, who has also said he will take an FDA-approved vaccine, condemned this claim during an editorial board meeting with USA Today on Wednesday, saying “Get rid of these ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
“When you ask me about frustration, which borders on pain, it’s that either people don’t want to look at the data or they look at the data and they say it’s fake. No, it isn’t fake. … This is a global issue,” Fauci said at the time.