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Bill Gates: Up to 6 COVID-19 vaccines could be available in next few months

Bill Gates: Up to 6 COVID-19 vaccines could be available in next few months
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Bill Gates estimates that as many as six coronavirus vaccines could be available to the American public by as early as spring.

“I expect that we’ll have about six vaccines approved by the first quarter,” Gates said Tuesday while speaking at the virtual Singapore FinTech Festival.

The tech billionaire mentioned that vaccine candidates from Novavax, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson could be approved within the coming months in addition to the Pfizer vaccine, which began its rollout in the United Kingdom on Tuesday. He did not name the sixth vaccine candidate.

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Pfizer and BioNTech have already sought out emergency approval for use in the U.S. and are set to become authorized by the Food and Drug Administration as early as this week. 

“The Western regulators are doing a great job,” Gates said. “They’ve run these phase three trials in an incredibly professional way, looking for any side effects, looking at efficacy.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been a longtime advocate for global health developments, has begun working with India’s Serum Institute in efforts to manufacture and distribute AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Gates also said that Serum Institute is looking to aid in manufacturing for the Novavax vaccine as well, CNBC reported.

“The goal is to get these things out as much as possible in 2021, so even in developing countries, the pandemic is over by some time in 2022,” Gates said.

Gates's work with the vaccines has leaned on traditional vaccine technology which can be stored at a lower cost, making them more accessible to nations with less money compared to vaccine candidates manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna, which have been reported to require storage at extremely low temperatures.

“We need to make sure we [distribute] in a somewhat equitable way, that’s not how rich you are determines whether you get access to this vaccine,” said Gates.

Gates's comments come as the U.S. just recorded its highest weekly COVID-19 death toll as the virus surges across the nation.