If there is reason for optimism, it’s that over the past year, the world has seen the largest public health effort in its history (REUTERS)
If there is reason for optimism, it’s that over the past year, the world has seen the largest public health effort in its history (REUTERS)

Covid-19: The power of global cooperation

While 2020 will be remembered as the year a global threat touched nearly every person on the planet, we hope 2021 will be remembered as the year the whole world benefitted from an equitable and effective Covid-19 response
By Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 04:56 AM IST

Two decades ago, we created a foundation focused on global health because we wanted to use the resources from Microsoft to improve as many lives as possible. Health is the bedrock of any thriving society. That fact has never been clearer than it has been over the last year, as the pandemic has upended lives here in India and around the world.

Even though our foundation had been concerned about a pandemic scenario for a long time — especially after the Ebola epidemic in West Africa — we were shocked by how drastically Covid-19 has disrupted economies, jobs, education, and well-being. In India, Covid-19 has cost over 150,000 lives, sickened over 10.5 million people, and impacted the economy.

While 2020 will be remembered as the year a global threat touched nearly every person on the planet, we hope 2021 will be remembered as the year the whole world benefitted from an equitable and effective Covid-19 response. If there is reason for optimism, it’s that over the past year, the world has seen the largest public health effort in its history: One involving policymakers, researchers, health care workers, business leaders, grassroots organisers, religious communities, and so many others around the globe working together in new ways.

That kind of shared effort is important, because in a global crisis like this one, you don’t want companies making decisions driven by a profit motive or governments acting with the narrow goal of protecting only their own citizens. You need a lot of different people and interests coming together in goodwill to benefit all of humanity.

Philanthropy can help facilitate that cooperation. Because our foundation has been working on infectious diseases for decades, we have strong, long-standing relationships with the World Health Organization, experts, governments, and the private sector.

And because our foundation is specifically focused on the challenges facing the world’s poorest people, we also understand the importance of ensuring that everyone involved in the pandemic response is considering the unique needs of low-income countries, too.

To date, our foundation has committed $1.75 billion to the fight against Covid-19. Most of that funding has gone toward producing and procuring crucial medical supplies. For example, we backed researchers developing new Covid-19 treatments, and we worked with partners to ensure that these drugs are formulated in a way that’s easy to transport and use in the poorest parts of the world so they benefit people everywhere. We’ve also supported efforts to find and distribute safe and effective vaccines against the virus.

The fact that Covid-19 vaccines are already becoming available is a stunning testament to the power of global cooperation. No one country or company could have achieved this alone. Funders around the world pooled resources, competitors shared research findings, and everyone involved had a head start thanks to many years of global investment in technologies that have helped unlock a new era in vaccine development.

As the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, India is playing a crucial role in these efforts. Our foundation, along with Gavi, has partnered with India’s Serum Institute to scale up their manufacturing capabilities for production of Covid-19 vaccines in large quantities so that populations in lower- and middle-income countries can access quality vaccines at affordable prices. We’re also looking at other partnerships with Indian manufacturers as data on new vaccine candidates emerge.

Of course, developing safe and effective vaccines is only the beginning of the story. Distributing the vaccine matters, too. Now, the world has to get those doses out to everyone who needs them — no matter where they live.

To make that happen, we’ll need to rely on organisations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi has delivered vaccines to 822 million kids in low-income countries over the last 20 years, and now they’re helping lead the international effort to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

As hard as it is to imagine right now while so many people are still suffering from Covid-19, this pandemic will come to an end someday.

When that moment gets here, it will be because of the people all over the world who came together to steer us through this crisis. Their courage and commitment will get us past this pandemic, and we owe it to them to recover in a way that leaves the whole world stronger and more prepared for the next challenge.

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are co-chairs and trustees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)
Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)

The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India

By Ronojoy Sen
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST
Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either
Close
The CM is wooing women by providing maternity child care leave and instituting schemes in educational institutions (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
The CM is wooing women by providing maternity child care leave and instituting schemes in educational institutions (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

When women shape political outcomes

By Shashi Shekhar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST
There are around 35 million women voters in Bengal who will play a significant role in this election. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been in power for the last 10 years, is aware of the power of women voters
Close
PM Modi’s first foray at peace-making with Pakistan had been directed at its civilian leadership. That completely miffed the generals. The situation is different this time, with a military-to-military statement (PIB)
PM Modi’s first foray at peace-making with Pakistan had been directed at its civilian leadership. That completely miffed the generals. The situation is different this time, with a military-to-military statement (PIB)

The difficult path to Indo-Pak peace

By Vivek Katju
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST
Pakistan’s army is on board with the ceasefire. But unless it revises its position on terror and Kashmir, talks will hit a barrier
Close
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

The 2021 elections will shape politics for years

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:56 PM IST
The polls will shape the trajectory of national politics, determine the balance of power between the Centre and states, and reveal the current strength of national and regional forces
Close
Disha Ravi has now been granted bail. However, in his judgment granting bail, Judge Dhamender Rana said, “The offence of sedition cannot be involved to minister to the wounded vanity of governments.” The government must heed this warning. (REUTERS)
Disha Ravi has now been granted bail. However, in his judgment granting bail, Judge Dhamender Rana said, “The offence of sedition cannot be involved to minister to the wounded vanity of governments.” The government must heed this warning. (REUTERS)

Securing India’s international image

By Mark Tully
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:09 PM IST
India is described as a flawed democracy in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. It has slipped from 27 in the rankings in 2014 to 53 in 2020. But does the government care about this slippage or indeed should it care? Three recent events make me wonder.
Close
Ghazala Wahab, the author of Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India , believes there are external and internal forces that hold ‘Muslims in a pincer grip’. (REUTERS)
Ghazala Wahab, the author of Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India , believes there are external and internal forces that hold ‘Muslims in a pincer grip’. (REUTERS)

It’s not easy being a Muslim in India

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 07:14 PM IST
Moderate Muslims are not just caught between two worlds but torn apart. “On the one hand, conservative or devout Muslims disparage them; on the other hand, Hindus suspect them”. So what choice do they have but to “keep their heads down and hope they won’t be called upon to take a stand?”
Close
Censorship and State monopoly on parliamentary telecast violate the democratic ideals of accountability, transparency, and keeping the electorate informed. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)
Censorship and State monopoly on parliamentary telecast violate the democratic ideals of accountability, transparency, and keeping the electorate informed. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)

Making parliamentary proceedings more transparent

By Kinshu Dang and Shreyas Narla
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:01 AM IST
If Parliament has to truly function as an “institution of accountability”, the General Purposes Committee, which oversees matters concerning the working of the House, must reform the telecast guidelines. It must also mull over the larger question of how accurate parliamentary records should be.
Close
The emotional turmoil of unrequited love is real, but we can put it behind us fairly quickly if we try. Take cues from the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. (FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES)
The emotional turmoil of unrequited love is real, but we can put it behind us fairly quickly if we try. Take cues from the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. (FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES)

Hooked on a feelin’: With Love by Simran Mangharam

By Simran Mangharam
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:47 PM IST
Heartbreak is bad enough. A heart that withers away when your feelings aren’t returned is a different kind of pain. Sometimes, it’s not them it really is you?
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vast appeal across so many social media platforms are tools that give unparalleled traction to India’s diplomatic outreach (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vast appeal across so many social media platforms are tools that give unparalleled traction to India’s diplomatic outreach (PTI)

The evolution of India’s Twitter diplomacy

By Syed Akbaruddin
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
In a multipolar world rife with concerns about terrorism, contentious trade disputes among allies and adversaries, catastrophic environmental degradation, health issues, human rights advocacy, the security implications of new technologies have made social media platforms an arena of inter-State contestation
Close
That’s not a glowing pitch for the history books. But the ignominy will not be hers. It will rest on the shoulders of the US lawmakers who were unable to overcome, once again, their hypocrisy, sexism and even, racism (AP)
That’s not a glowing pitch for the history books. But the ignominy will not be hers. It will rest on the shoulders of the US lawmakers who were unable to overcome, once again, their hypocrisy, sexism and even, racism (AP)

What is blocking Neera Tanden’s rise to the cabinet

By Yashwant Raj
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:26 AM IST
If confirmed, she will become the first Indian-American to hold a Cabinet position in the United States (US) federal government, as director of the office of budget and management
Close
Working in the cramped environment of their homes with little or no contact with teammates, for longer hours, without the relief of social friends and yet being expected to deliver the same quality of work as before, is an unrealistic ask — yet the norm among corporates (Shutterstock)
Working in the cramped environment of their homes with little or no contact with teammates, for longer hours, without the relief of social friends and yet being expected to deliver the same quality of work as before, is an unrealistic ask — yet the norm among corporates (Shutterstock)

Stress hits the bottom line – in more ways than you think

By Raghu Raman
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:24 AM IST
Corporates will pay a heavy price if they don’t understand the implications of mental health. Make well-being a priority for employees
Close
By toppling a Congress government in Puducherry, the BJP has sent a message to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it is contesting the assembly elections with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, that the Congress is a greatly diminished force, and the party can be vanquished at any time. (PTI)
By toppling a Congress government in Puducherry, the BJP has sent a message to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it is contesting the assembly elections with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, that the Congress is a greatly diminished force, and the party can be vanquished at any time. (PTI)

The BJP’s ruthless expansion drive

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:30 AM IST
Puducherry is only the latest instance of the Modi-Shah playbook of expanding political power. In a sense, Puducherry is now part of a pattern of Machiavellian intrigue that has been repeated from Arunachal and Manipur to Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh where a ruthlessly expansionist BJP seeks to consolidate its ascendancy by wangling either wholesale or retail defections.
Close
For China, there have always been certain issues that are core to its relationship with Myanmar. The latter is strategically important to gain access to the Indian Ocean as well as to Southeast Asia. It is economically important because of its natural resources such as timber, the hydroelectric possibilities stemming from its many large rivers, as well as oil and gas and minerals. Finally, China is committed to large-scale infrastructure projects in the country. (AFP)
For China, there have always been certain issues that are core to its relationship with Myanmar. The latter is strategically important to gain access to the Indian Ocean as well as to Southeast Asia. It is economically important because of its natural resources such as timber, the hydroelectric possibilities stemming from its many large rivers, as well as oil and gas and minerals. Finally, China is committed to large-scale infrastructure projects in the country. (AFP)

Myanmar-China ties: It’s complicated

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:53 PM IST
While China needs to work with Myanmar, the generals make for uneasy bedfellows in a relationship that has had a long and turbulent history.
Close
Women constitute only 14% of the 280,000 personnel in STEM in India’s research development institutions (UN data). In addition, although women’s participation in the workforce is higher at entry-level, it gradually decreases at higher research, academics and administration levels. (HTPHOTO)
Women constitute only 14% of the 280,000 personnel in STEM in India’s research development institutions (UN data). In addition, although women’s participation in the workforce is higher at entry-level, it gradually decreases at higher research, academics and administration levels. (HTPHOTO)

A gender equality framework for India’s sciences and tech disciplines

By Barbara Wickham
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
Greater gender equality in STEM is crucial, and in the larger interest of scientific progress and society. Currently, India is looking at a paradoxical situation where women are studying STEM subjects but there are not as many women in STEM careers.
Close
The BJP’s political dominance may, paradoxically in some ways, deepen social divisions (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
The BJP’s political dominance may, paradoxically in some ways, deepen social divisions (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

The disruptive social effects of Hindutva 2.0

PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
It is the electoral hegemony of the BJP which can deepen the sense of betrayal among those who feel short-changed by the side effects of Hindutva 2.0
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP