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Bill Gates: S. Korea leads the race for COVID-19 vaccine

Bill Gates: S. Korea leads the race for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted July. 27, 2020 07:52,   

Updated July. 27, 2020 07:52


Microsoft co-founder and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairman Bill Gates has expressed his hope to strengthen the cooperation with the South Korean government in a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, saying that he was impressed by South Korea’s response to COVID-19.

“Mr. Gates showed his gratitude to President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook for leadership and efforts to promote global health in times like this,” Yoon Jae-gwan, deputy spokesperson of the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said on Sunday. “He expressed his hope to work more closely together with the South Korean government, especially in the fight against COVID-19 and other global heath issues.” President Moon and Gates discussed responses to the pandemic on the phone in April, but this is the first time the Microsoft founder wrote a letter to President Moon.

According to the presidential office, Bill Gates believes that South Korea has successfully slowed the spread of the virus and is leading the race for a vaccine. He said SK Bioscience, a South Korean pharmaceutical company backed by the Gates Foundation, can produce 200 million vaccines a year starting June next year once a vaccine is successfully developed. He then went on to say he hopes that the vaccine would help people in need across the world.

The billionaire philanthropist also shared his plan to increase investment in “Right Fund,” a joint fund created by the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Gates Foundation and South Korean biopharmaceutical firms in 2018 with the goal of improving global public health. The fund plans to invest a total of 50 billion won by 2022 in promising technologies that can help respond to infectious diseases, with 25 billion won from the South Korean government and 12.5 billion won from the Gates Foundation. And Gates said his foundation will invest more. “The South Korean government will also announce its plan to increase investment once it decided,” said an official from the presidential office.

Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com