(CNN)The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is contributing hundreds of millions of dollars toward Covid-19 vaccine trials. In this episode, Bill Gates sits down with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper to discuss the prospect of developing a vaccine.
Bill Gates on the Search for a Vaccine: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for June 30
You can listen on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Bill Gates, philanthropist, at CNN Town Hall on April 30: So we're entering into a tough period. If we do it right, we'll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks. It has to be the whole country. And having states go with different things, or thinking you can do it county by county, that will not work. The cases will be exponentially growing anywhere you don't have a serious shutdown.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: That was Bill Gates talking to Anderson Cooper and me eight weeks ago.
At the time, over 63,000 Americans had died from Covid-19. But since then, that number has skyrocketed. And while many states are trying to reopen businesses and operate in this new normal, some are reporting their highest daily case counts since the pandemic began.
The only end in sight seems to be the arrival of a vaccine.
That's why Bill Gates is contributing hundreds of millions of dollars toward coronavirus vaccine trials through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
So, Anderson and I sat down with Gates for another conversation. And in this episode, you'll hear what he had to say about the prospect of a vaccine for Covid-19.
I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. And this is "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction."
Gupta: Bill, thanks so much for coming back to speak with us. I thought we'd be having a different conversation, frankly, end of June, about this.
Last time we spoke, I asked you about cognitive dissonance. You know, this idea that people are already taking victory laps, acting as if the pandemic is over. How much do you think that's contributing? I mean, we know about the testing issues, we're going to talk about that, masks, physical distancing, but just the mindset overall.
How much do you think that's contributing, this cognitive dissonance, and why? Why here?
Gates: Well, it's almost as though people have a willingness to go into lockdown once and, you know, for a certain period. You know, maybe that's not surprising. Then it takes to get them to extend it past a certain thing or even to inconvenience themselves with masks, you know, requires maybe somebody they know to not only test positive, but maybe get very sick as well.
And so the range of behaviors in the US right now, some people who are being very conservative in what they do and some people are basically ignoring the epidemic. It's, you know, huge. And, you know, we've worn out people's patience. And if they don't see it in some way, they, you know, some people almost feel like it's a political thing, which is unfortunate.
Gupta: So right now, there's been roughly 5 to 7% of the United States population that's been infected with the virus. That's a rough number. It's a lot of people. But I know you've heard a lot from people like Dr. Michael Osterholm, who's the director and founder of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minnesota.
And he said this interesting quote this past week. He said, "The virus is not going to slow down transmission overall. It may come and go, but it's going to keep transmitting until we get at least 60 or 70 percent of the population infected, which may give immunity or if we get a vaccine." So I'm just wondering, do you agree with him that unless we get a vaccine, that that percentage of Americans will likely get infected?
Gates: That's right. And even with the vaccine, there's two characteristics of a vaccine. One is whether it protects you individually from getting sick. The other is whether it stops you from being a transmitter of the disease. And it's possible the vaccine will be better at protecting you individually and not stop you from transmitting. We're trying to look at the various vaccines and see how they measure up on those two dimensions. But it's not guaranteed that the vaccine will be a perfect transmission blocker.
Gupta: You know, the thing that has sort of struck me about this, Bill, is that I've been reporting on this for a long time. I haven't seen a lot of data. I saw a little bit of the Moderna data from the phase I trial, eight patients who developed the neutralizing antibodies.
The only peer-reviewed published data that I've seen has actually come out of China, an adenovirus vaccine trial over there. We're seeing a lot of press releases. We're seeing a lot of preprints. It's not peer reviewed. I've got to tell you, it makes me nervous. You know, we like to dig into this stuff. You're optimistic, I know, about the vaccines. Are you seeing something that we're not seeing? Or how should we take that?
Gates: Well, there's two vaccines, the Oxford [University] AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson, that are similar in their approach, they both use an adenovirus vector where the animal data looks promising. And those are the two with the most promise because we know how to scale up the manufacturing.
And our foundation is putting together agreements where we put hundreds of millions in to have factories that are available even to the countries that aren't super wealthy. They may not succeed. But I'm hopeful for those two vaccines and that's why, you know, we're putting up, you know, hundreds of millions. So it'll be completely wasted if those don't succeed. But you're right. The amount of human data is modest.
Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor: I want to play something that Dr. Fauci talked about during his testimony about a vaccine, let's play that.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: And I believe it will be when and not if we get favorable candidates with good results. We will be able to make them available to the American public. As I said to this committee months ago, within a year from when we started, which would put us at the end of this calendar year and the beginning of 2021.
Cooper: I mean, you mentioned timeline a little bit. Is that realistic? And also you talked about distribution, you know, having a vaccine that works and then actually getting it distributed and figuring out how it's distributed and paid for. What sort of a timeline is that?
Gates: The big problems are safety and efficacy. And phase III trials are very complex to do. And you may see a safety signal that forces you to try out in a broader set of people. The two constructs, both Fauci and I are very hopeful that they'll work. I talk to him regularly, more often than he talks to some other people. And his view of the chances and our view are very aligned. We're see