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Bill Gates: Coronavirus treatments should go to those who need them, not 'highest bidder'

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said that when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution, it should go to the countries that need it most, not to the "highest bidder."

"If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we'll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic," Gates said in a video published Saturday during a virtual COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society.

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Gates added that the initiative needs to be driven by leaders making decisions "based on equity" and not solely on "market-driven factors."

Hundreds of vaccine trials are underway across numerous countries, with billions of government dollars being spent on research and manufacturing to find a COVID-19 cure as quickly as possible.

The European Commission and the World Health Organization have raised concerns about unhealthy competition in the race to find a cure to save lives and revive economies that have suffered because of the virus, Fox Business reported.

In May, the Trump administration announced that the "Operation Warp Speed" program is looking at 14 drug candidates for the vaccine, and officials in Washington have indicated residents of the U.S. would be first on the priority list for receiving the vaccine, the report added.

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During the conference, Gates said the effort for battling global HIV/AIDS began two decades ago, highlighting how countries came together to create medicines available across most of the world.

"One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the importance of building this large, fair global distribution system to get the drugs out to everyone," Gates said.

He added that the AIDS crisis could serve as a model for making COVID-19 medicines more widely available, offering the example of the 2002 Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.