WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) sharply criticized Bill Gates, cofounder and former CEO of Microsoft Corporation and cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for his opposition to sharing patents for COVID-19 vaccines with the world. His opposition came to light in an interview Gates sat for last week on Britain’s ‘Sky News,’ which immediately drew criticism online and in social media.
According to a news article in the International Business Times on the Sky News interview, “When asked if he thought it ‘would be helpful’ to share vaccine recipes, Gates said no.” He added “’… moving something that had never been done — moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India — it's novel — it's only because of our grants and expertise that can happen at all,’ he stated.”
“We can’t solve our global pandemic using the same heartless IT robber baron approach Bill Gates used to make tens of billions of dollars from monopolizing things that neither he nor Microsoft invented,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “The COVID-19 pandemic presents a moment that requires all-hands-on-deck, including a temporary suspension of patents on these lifesaving vaccines. Saying that the high rollout rate of vaccines in richer countries will help free up doses to share with other countries only goes so far. What if a more virulent variant breaks through in the US and UK? Poorer countries again will be shunted to the back of the line.”
“Covid-19 vaccines are a humanitarian emergency. We should use and deploy all the public health evidence and resources to effectively combat our global crisis, including lessons learned from the SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks over the past decade,” said Jorge Saavedra, MD, executive director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami. “Gates is the second biggest donor to the World Health Organization, he also sponsors dozens of NGOs, activists, universities, UNAIDS, GAVI, COVAX, and the Global Fund. For COVID-19, Gates would be wise to pay close attention to lessons learned from the HIV pandemic on how poor countries have been able to access lifesaving ARVs for their populations. In fact, the Global Fund—to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just donated $750 million this past January—now only purchases generic antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS patients.”
AHF is leveling its criticism against Gates at the same time the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepares to kick off its General Council meeting, which starts tomorrow (May 5). WTO members will consider a vote to temporarily waive or suspend all COVID-19 vaccine patents, something AHF has separately urged President Biden and his trade representatives to support. A vote by the U.S. and other wealthy nations against the waiver could mean millions more avoidable deaths, extension of the pandemic and a risk of new, more dangerous variants of the virus arising across the world.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare