Expert calls for making COVID-19 vaccines before we know they work

The challenge is we’re in a pandemic and we need vaccine super fast — as fast as we can possibly get it in very large quantities. We’re going to probably — I’ll speculate here — vaccinate a very large percentage of the world’s population in a very short period of time. That probably will take two or three or four years. But in a compressed period of time, we’re going to want to vaccinate 5, 6, even 7 billion people.

My own sense is that this will be a lot easier for companies if there are very substantial purchase commitments. One way to conceive of that would be a global advanced purchase commitment over several years to buy an awful lot of vaccine. And probably in the order of billions of doses over several years, that could be from multiple manufacturers. But I do think the world needs to think about it.

It also needs to think about how we’re going to allocate vaccine fairly. This is a case of enlightened self-interest. Countries can’t really protect themselves or protect their economic interests until the pandemic goes away. And that means getting vaccine to as many people globally as possible. And I don’t think you can just leave that to market mechanisms or even necessarily to tiered pricing. Because, you know, the vaccine supply is going to be limited initially. So there’s going to have to be some kind of prioritization of vaccine.