When will the world go back to be the way it was before the coronavirus pandemic? Billionaire Philanthropist Bill Gates said the answer is when we have an almost perfect drug or an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, in his blog.

“We’d need a miracle treatment that was at least 95 percent effective to stop the outbreak. Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” Gates said.

Here’s what Gates wants the world to know about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Though vaccine development typically takes around five years, it will take around eighteen-nine months to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine.
  • Safety and efficacy are the most important goals for any vaccine. And to test these, vaccines go through three phases of trials.
  • Phase one is the safety trial when a small group of healthy volunteers gets administered with different dosages to create the strongest immune response without serious side effects.
  • In phase two, hundreds of individuals will get the vaccine to find out how it works.
  • And in the final phase, it will be given to thousands of people who are already at the risk of acquiring the infection to find out if it decreases the number of people who get sick.
  • Once the vaccine passes all three stages, it will be submitted to the WHO to get approved.
  • To speed up the process, developers are compressing the timeline. “Fortunately, compressing the trial timeline isn’t the only way to take a process that usually takes five years and get it done in 18 months. Another way we’re going to do that is by testing lots of different approaches at the same time,” Gates said.
  • As of April 9, there are 115 different vaccine candidates under development.
  • There are two kinds of vaccines- the live vaccines and the inactivated ones.
  • Two new approaches are taken by some of the vaccine candidates: RNA and DNA vaccines.
  • Beyond safety and efficacy, other factors including the number of doses, duration of its effectiveness, and storage compliance are some important factors to be considered.
  • Once we have a vaccine, we need at least 7 billion doses of it. And in reality, will everyone be able to get a dose at the same time? It might take months or even years to create 7 billion doses. But who gets it first? “Most people agree that health workers should get the vaccine first. But who gets it next? Older people? Teachers? Workers in essential jobs?” he asked.
  • Eventually, when the vaccine becomes available to everyone, things will get back to normal and hopefully prevent us from being in this situation ever again.

“In the meantime, I urge you to continue following the guidelines set by your local authorities. Our ability to get through this outbreak will depend on everyone doing their part to keep each other safe,” Gates concluded.

bill gates Bill Gates in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 2018. Photo: Toshifumi Kitamura/Getty Images