Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said therapeutic drugs to treat the coronavirus could reduce the death rate substantially this year but a vaccine will be crucial to bringing back a sense of normalcy to society.
“You can see the therapeutic benefit faster than the protective benefit,” Gates said in an interview that aired Tuesday, July 28 on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So I think there’s a good chance we’ll have substantial death-rate reduction by the end of the year with the combination of those new tools.”
The Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said remdesivir was one of the leading treatments in the therapeutic research. Remdesivir is an antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences that has shown to have reduced the risk of death for severely sick Covid-19 patients by 62% compared with standard care alone.
Gates said there are two other antivirals that scientists are looking into, which can be administered orally instead of being injected with an IV like the remdesivir treatment.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced plans in February to donate $100 million to vaccine research and treatment efforts for the coronavirus as part of the World Health Organization’s request for $675 million in contributions to fight the spread of the virus. In June, the foundation pledged an additional $1.6 billion to the Gavi vaccine alliance, an organization focused on efforts to immunize children amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Also I’d say monoclonal antibodies are probably the most promising class. ...You have people like Regeneron, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca doing some pretty strong work,” Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin in Monday’s interview.