TACOMA, Washington — The sudden socioeconomic impact following the global COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the world in many different ways. Everything from economies to healthcare systems has had its stability tested to the extreme. The question on so many minds: “When will there be a vaccine?” Thankfully, there is now some much-needed optimism from world-renowned philanthropist Bill Gates on the benefits of increased funding for global COVID-19 vaccines.
On September 14, 2020, Bill Gates pitched his idea to congress about adding a substantial amount of funding to the novel coronavirus stimulus package that is still in discussion on Capitol Hill. Gates proposed adding $4 billion to the budget to develop and distribute low-cost COVID-19 vaccines in poverty-stricken and financially unstable countries. Although the U.S. does have a slightly higher number of cases than most of the world, COVID-19 cases in developing countries go unreported and their already fragile economies make their suffering catastrophic.
Funding Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts
The Gates Foundations’ 2020 Goalkeeper report provided five key reasons why this funding is so crucial in helping reduce the disease’s spread globally. These reasons include capping the worldwide recession, prioritizing saving lives over national wealth, decreasing the expected wait times, lessening social restrictions to improve local economies and boosting health worldwide to advance the global economy.
Firstly, the report highlights how the world has not experienced a simultaneous worldwide recession since the 1870s, affecting developing and developed countries alike. Between 1990 and 2020, the global poverty rate was less than $2 a day. In fact, the poverty rate has fallen from 37% to under 7% during this period. However, since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, 37 million people have fallen back below the poverty line, reversing the work done in alleviating global poverty.
As cases in the U.S. are beginning to decline, India has reported figures of more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day for over a week’s length. If giving vaccines is based solely on a countries’ population size instead of its wealth, it would double the number of lives saved.
The Many Benefits of Global COVID-19 Vaccines
The COVID-19 virus was a new phenomenon for everyone, ushering in a heavy amount of uncertainty as to when the world may go back to some form of normalcy. In September, Forbes released an article detailing Bill Gates and The World Health Organization’s predictions of when the world can expect to go back to life before the pandemic. Gates explains that the expected wait time for sufficient numbers of vaccines produced and distributed worldwide is two years. Social tensions are becoming even tighter with the looming flu season ahead in specific regions of the world. Even when COVID-19 vaccines start being administered, it will take a minimum of two years for populations to begin seeing a natural resistance to the virus.
As a result, the new social restrictions practiced around the world will most likely be embraced for the foreseeable future to ensure vulnerable groups in impoverished countries remain safe. However, increased funding for global COVID-19 vaccines can decrease the expected wait time, strengthen herd immunity and help lessen the number of social restrictions in impoverished countries, and thus improve local economies.
Reaching for Greater Economic Prosperity
As far as global health is concerned, the onslaught of COVID-19 has forced many countries to take a giant step backward in healthcare and economic progression. The Gates Foundation is taking a positive approach to these effects. The 2020 Goalkeeper report explains how the U.S. can seize this time to get a real handle on the COVID-19 case numbers by doubling its current foreign aid budget. It emphasizes how focusing internationally can alleviate COVID-19 cases more significantly than by only fighting the virus domestically. If the highest infected countries can get their cases under control, it will bring back stability to the global economy. Less global cases would inevitably lead to greater economic prosperity in the forms of tourism and world business.
If there is one thing Bill Gates is known for, it is his logistical approach to helping solve global problems. Since global pandemics occur once in a lifetime, The Gates Foundation recognizes this as a unique opportunity to bring real change and progress to the world health community. All that’s left is for the U.S. to step up and give the green light for the needed funding for global COVID-19 vaccines.
– Brandon Baham