We Spoke To Bill Gates About Saving 400 Million People From Disease: "All Life Has Equal Value"

Bill Gates, pictured here after his meeting with the French President at the Elysee Presidential Palace back in June 2016. Chesnot/Getty Images

Their PR assault appears to be working – more people are aware of the plight of NTDs than ever before, and never has the scale of the philanthropy been so high, nor the science been so cutting-edge.

Gates mentions new, easily programmable inoculations called “DNA-RNA vaccines”. If their development is successful, it will make it easier to create new vaccines.

“You could engineer something up in a year or less, rather than the typical five years that it takes today,” Gates told us, noting that we are only three years away from the first of their kind being shipped out for clinical use.

“We’re also getting Guinness World Record-scale donations of drugs,” Gates added.

“These drugs and treatments even have side effects that are good,” Jacobson explained. “The drugs for LF, for example, also treats intestinal worms. Some get rid of people’s scabies, and people are really happy, as you can imagine.”

“These are really solvable problems, in a world where we have a whole bunch of things that don’t seem solvable,” Jacobson added. “Thankfully, we’re getting down to the very last cases with these diseases.”

“But boy, we have a long way to go. We’re going to have to be even more creative, and work more closely together.”

Setting a world record for the most drugs donated in 24 hours: 207,169,292 of them. Gates Archive/Mike Kemp

Implicitly voicing “concern” at the outbursts of isolationism cropping up in the West, Gates also said that people and governments must think globally, not just nationally.

“One element of optimism that has driven the very rapid progress is the idea of countries working together,” he notes. “If you want to avoid pandemics coming to rich countries, you should improve health and have good health systems so they can be spotted and stopped anywhere in the world.”

“If you want to avoid mass migration, you should try and create stability in other parts of the world. If you want to help the economy, lifting these countries up to participate is of great value,” he said.

Say you donated a dollar – a single dollar – to vaccination programs abroad. That will directly translate into $44-worth of profit. Parents no longer have to take time off work to look after their child, so they can continue contributing to the economy.


The target number of annual infections for these diseases, along with malaria, TB, and HIV, along with the target number of preventable deaths, and the number of those suffering from malnutrition. BMGF

“Of course,” Gates hastened to add, “there are purely humanitarian reasons for these things too.”

As we noted last time we spoke, this profound and relentless optimism can be found throughout all of the Foundation’s work. The pervading message across all fields is, essentially, “chin up, everyone – the world is doing a lot better than you think it is.”

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