Bill Gates is a renowned name in the world of global influencers.
He grew to global prominence in the technology world and evolved to position himself as a philanthropist.
I have never been in awe of Bill Gates or his foundation – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In my eyes, he is not a philanthropist but a money-making opportunist.
We as Indians, including our government, can willfully ignore some of the anomalies of the vaccination initiatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in India and other parts of the world, in particular Africa, but it will not change the fact that there is no philanthropy in Gates’s intention. It is only greed.
In an interview, last year, speaking in a documentary: COVID-19: India’s War Against The Virus – premiered on Discovery, this hypocrite Bill Gates, stated, “India’s pharmaceutical industry will be able to produce COVID-19 vaccines not just for the country but also for the entire world.” He further elaborated, “India has a lot of capacity there — with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world. You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere.”
He then further goes on to elaborate about India’s vaccine production prowess, saying, “India joined Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is a group working on a global basis to build vaccines platforms. I am excited that the pharmaceutical industry there will be able to produce not just for India but also for the entire world. This is what we need to reduce the deaths and make sure we are immune, which is how we end the epidemic.”
However in 2021, when India is facing the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, Bill Gates in an interview with Sky News exposes himself to the world by showing that he is not a philanthropist but a vaccine businessman controlling patents.
In the interview with Sky News, Bill Gates was asked if a change in intellectual property law would be helpful in the current Covid crisis?
However, Bill Gates, who fancies himself as saving the world from global annihilation due to COVID, told the interviewer – No. He clearly denied sharing the formulas with developing countries.
Now, one would logically deduce that a quick way to get vaccines to people was to share the vaccine formula and production techniques with countries other than the US so as to enable localized production. But Gates does not think so.
According to Gates, “Well, there’s only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines. And moving something that had never been done -moving vaccine, say, a from a (Johnson & Johnson) factory into a factory in India — it is novel — it’s only because of our grants and expertise that can happen at all.”
The reason behind holding things back in terms of global vaccine rollout expressed by Bill Gates, “It is not intellectual property. It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you’ve got to do the trail on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way.”
A report by Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd (AFTINET) points out the involvement of Gates through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation towards the partnership of the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca to deliver its Covid-19 vaccine candidate to the countries across the world. The report mentions that this was a major reason for the exclusive license-controlled distribution of the vaccine instead of an open distribution model for any manufacturer.
Here are excerpts of the report that appeared of AFTINET:
“The Nation magazine has started the investigation of investments that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may have in the pharmaceutical companies wanting to manufacture possible COVID-19 vaccines. The Gates Foundation is the key funder of Gavi The Vaccine Alliance and CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, as well as being a co-leader in the World Health Organisation’s COVAX Facility and Advanced Market Commitment funds. While this funding is most welcome, it is based on current WTO intellectual property rules that give private companies monopoly rights on new medicines for 20 years, with exceptions that are difficult to use even in a pandemic.
Gates pushed the University of Oxford to deliver its leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate to a partnership with AstraZeneca, as Bloomberg and Kaiser Health News recently reported. This changed the university’s distribution model from an open-license platform, designed to make its vaccine freely available for any manufacturer, to an exclusive license controlled by AstraZeneca.
Gates was persuasive because CEPI funds the University of Oxford’s vaccine projects with US$384 million. The Gates Foundation has also directly given hundreds of millions of dollars to the university through charitable grants for a variety of projects—including previous funding to the university’s Jenner Institute, which is developing Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Oxford and AstraZeneca have made public promises about forgoing profits and providing fair access to their vaccine if it is successful, but neither have provided details. Other companies have made similar humanitarian pledges but they continue to pursue the traditional business model—based on exclusive licenses— designed to generate profits, not promote fair access.
“If we change the way in which you regulate the industry or the ways in which you want medicines or vaccines to be produced and delivered,” says KM Gopakumar, legal adviser to the Third World Network, who is based in India, “it’s definitely going to affect these companies’ business model—and also the investments of Gates Foundation. So they are using their money to reinforce the status quo.”
The Foundation put US$250 million of its US$2.5 billion Strategic Investment Fund into its work on COVID-19, including investments in Gilead, owner of the COVID-19 treatment drug Remdesivir, and CureVac, a German company working on a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Forbes’s estimates, Bill Gates’s private wealth, at around US$115 billion, has increased by more than US$10 billion during the pandemic. However, lack of transparency means that there is little information about the details of personal investments in companies working on COVID-19.
If the Gates followed either media or scientific disclosure rules, there would be transparency around the Gates Foundation’s US$47 billion endowments and also the personal fortune of Bill and Melinda Gates.”
As I said, Bill Gates is not a philanthropist but a money-making opportunist. His investments, amounting to millions of Dollars, show that the world’s most talked-about philanthropist, and one of the world’s most influential voices in the pandemic response, is in a position to reap a windfall from the COVID pandemic.