Bill Gates Announces $12 Million Contest for a Universal Flu Vaccine
Microsoft founder pushing vaccines at his presentation
Bill Gates has emphasized the need for the world to be "prepared" for a global flu pandemic by putting up $12 million for a universal flu vaccine.
Speaking at his lecture the Massachusetts Medical Society, Gates focused on the topic of a "coming pandemic" that the US government allegedly isn't prepared for.
Throughout his lecture, he looked at the past, present, and future of our outbreak preparedness.
Gates said he had tried to convince the Trump administration to set aside extra funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to prioritize 'a national response plan' that would govern how resources would be deployed in an event of a pandemic.
Gate noted the “wake up calls” of the 2009 H1N1 virus and West Africa’s more recent Ebola outbreak, which he insists are the reason why the world needs a universal vaccine.
“The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war,” Gates said in the presentation.
Futurism reports: Back in 1889, the Russian flu became the first flu pandemic to spread across continents. A few decades later, the 1918 flu pandemic killed 675,000 people in just five weeks.
Luckily for those of us alive now, today we have vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools that help us address outbreaks far more effectively than when those illnesses first took hold.
But we still fall short in so many respect, according to Gates.
We couldn’t effectively track the diseases as they spread. Our local health systems simply collapsed. People kept dying because we weren’t ready.
“The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war,” Gates told the audience.
One way to be better prepared for the inevitable next pandemic: to develop better weapons to fight outbreaks.
To that end, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with the family of Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page to launch the Universal Influenza Vaccine Development Grand Challenge.
According to the challenge website, the goal is to find a “game changing, universal solution” to address both pandemic and seasonal influenza.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 290,000 to 650,000 people die from the latter each year, and while less common, pandemic influenza can be even more deadly.
The Grand Challenge will award $250,000 to $2 million in funding over two years to the most promising proposals for a universal flu vaccine.
Then, those projects that “demonstrate promising proof-of-concept data,” such as success in animal models, can apply for a full award of $10 million for additional studies.
The Gates Foundation is thinking big and fast with this challenge. They’re only interested in a universal flu vaccine — not one that might work to address certain strains of the flu or in certain populations — and they want it to be ready for clinical trials by 2021.
We may not meet the Hollywood standard for outbreak preparedness today, but if Bill Gates has anything to say about it, we might in the very near future.