Air Date

June 23, 2020

Featured Guests

Bill Gates
Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda Gates
Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


The distribution process for the coronavirus vaccine is a frequent point of discussion and contention. As of late March 2021, the U.S. is in the midst of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, with over 78 million doses already administered in the United States.

While the U.S.’s current priority is healthcare workers and at-risk groups, the vaccine will soon be distributed to the wider population. Who gets the vaccine first and how it's distributed are questions that local and state governments are still trying to clarify.

Bill and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation were focused on the distribution of the vaccine as it was being developed. During the pandemic, their foundation prioritized developing a safe and accurate vaccine and ensuring everyone had equal access to it — not just in the U.S. but all around the world. While two vaccines have been developed and approved, with more on their way, there still needs to be an organized and efficient way to distribute them to the entire population.

Every Country Needs Equal Access to the Coronavirus Vaccine

One of Melinda Gates' biggest fears as the vaccine was being developed was that richer countries would be able to buy up vaccines, while poorer countries would have limited or no access to the vaccine, simply because they could not afford it for their citizens.

“The last thing you want is a bidding war between countries for this vaccine,” Gates said.

The priority shouldn't be for the wealthier countries to get vaccinated first. Rather, those health care workers who are directly caring for patients with COVID-19, as well as other frontline workers putting their health on the line every day, should have first access to the vaccine.

“We know there are 60 million healthcare workers around the world who are keeping everybody safe,” Gates said. “They deserve to get this vaccine first.”

Once those who are on the front lines have been fully vaccinated, then countries must look within to start vaccinating their most vulnerable. In most countries, that would start with the elderly and those at high risk. Each country also has its own different populations better vulnerable. Global leaders need to assess who that is and grant them access is a vaccine first.

“From there, you want to do tiering in various countries to make sure your most vulnerable populations get it,” Gates said. “In our country, that would be Blacks and Native Americans, people with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”