When asked recently what good his fortune could do in the Age of Coronavirus, Bill Gates replied, “Governments will eventually come up with lots of money, but they don’t know where to direct it. They can’t move as quickly.”
At the moment, there are a number of promising vaccine constructs to fight coronavirus, and the Microsoft founder is promising that his early money “can accelerate things” in developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
Funding Factories for the Most Promising Seven
“For example, of all the vaccine constructs, the seven most promising of those, even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven,” promises the mogul turned philanthropist.
The way things usually work is to build factories after testing which vaccines are the safest and most effective. But not so with Mr. Gates, reports the WSJ. “Mr. Gates wants to ensure that the manufacturing capacity is ready to go immediately.”
“It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don’t get picked because something else is better. But a few billion in the situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars” at risk is worth it, he said. “And normal government procurement processes, and understanding which are the right seven, in a few months those may kick in. But our foundation, we can get that bootstrapped and get it going and save months.”
Bravo, Mr. Gates, Continues the WSJ
Mr. Gates’s money could save millions of lives and help restart the global economy if his manufacturing bet pays off. This effort comes in addition to the billions Mr. Gates already has spent fighting other infectious diseases, and the $125 million he announced in March to tackle Covid-19.
The Folly of Progressive Proposals
Mr. Gates’s plans are a rebuttal to proposals for confiscatory tax policy that punish wealth creation. If wealth taxes of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren and now entertained by the Financial Times were in place in the 1980s, Mr. Gates’s roughly $100 billion fortune might be a tenth of that. And it’s unlikely he’d have the capacity to act this boldly.
Once the virus is conquered—and it will be—the biggest risk will be the political campaign to expand government control over far more of American economic life.
Society will be better off because Mr. Gates is the one spending his billions rather than having to turn them over to the ministrations of the U.S. Congress.
RIP, John Prine, singer/songwriter, who died of complications of coronavirus on 7 April.