Melinda Gates Claims We Will Reach Global Herd Immunity in 2022

In an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen, Melinda Gates made the bold claim that global herd immunity could be achieved in 2022. The billionaire philanthropist and former tech executive also confirmed that single shots like Johnson & Johnson’s would take until the end of the year to make it into developing countries. Once vaccines have been administered to global populations, Gates, who has donated millions to coronavirus vaccine and treatment research, said we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. “There are a lot of people suffering, not just in the U.S. but everywhere,” she said.

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Global leaders in the medical community are not as optimistic. Many have said it could take years before countries can vaccinate entire populations. Meanwhile, infectious disease experts believe that Covid-19 may well become an endemic disease. It will likely resurface and circulate every year just like the flu does, though at much lower levels. There is also the specter of variants emerging. Health officials will have to be vigilant about any kind of variant so that scientists can develop vaccines to fight them.

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The United States, under the Biden administration, has been rapidly administering vaccines to Americans. As of writing this, approximately 60 million out of some 331 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. However, according to Adam MacNeil, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country is nowhere near reaching herd immunity. As for the goal of global herd immunity, some world leaders contend that developing nations have not been able to access the vaccines since wealthier nations like the U.S., China, and much of Europe have been snapping more of the supply than they need.

These challenges don’t faze Gates. She praised the Biden administration’s efforts to bring a close to the global pandemic at home and abroad, saying it was like “night and day” when compared to the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “15% of the population has been covered. There’s more to go, but you’re seeing more testing available. You’re seeing more hope because people are seeing their loved ones who are older vaccinated,” she said in the interview.