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Bill Gates Pledges $125 Million To COVID-19 Vaccine Research: 'It Is Worth It'

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The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is well and truly on, with dozens of research labs around the globe hard at work on various approaches to putting an end to the virus that has, at the time of writing, infected at least 1,279,000 people and killed at least 76,600 worldwide, according to the WHO.

Despite the many, many researchers working on the problem, best estimates still put a viable vaccine 12-18 months away, but that doesn't mean Bill Gates is wasting any time now.

Speaking with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, the Microsoft billionaire announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was staking $125 million toward the construction of seven factories to be ready to start producing a vaccine as soon as one is ready, even though not all seven will be used.

It's all about saving as much time as possible, Gates explained.

"Our early money can accelerate things," Gates said in the interview. "Of all the vaccine constructs, the seven most promising of those, even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven, and just so that we don’t waste time in serially saying, ‘Okay, which vaccine works?’ And then building the factory."

Getting those vaccine factories up and ready now will "save months, because every month counts," Gates said.

Spending billions on factories that might never produce anything is worth it, Gates added.

Given "the situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars — that’s a thousand times more — trillions of dollars being lost economically, it is worth it," he said.

A widespread, easily available vaccine is the key to getting life back to normal, he stressed.

"The ultimate solution, the only thing that really lets us go back completely to normal and feel good about sitting in a stadium with lots of other people, is to create a vaccine," Gates said.

In the meantime, distancing measures will have to continue until the numbers drop enough for testing and containment to take over and allow the economy to open back up.

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