When Gates put himself to the task of stopping preventable deaths through vaccine use, he was ready to use the power of his personal fortune. But back then, there was nobody you could write a check to if you wanted to buy vaccines, he says. Since then, Gates has created a public-private market where individuals and entire nations can purchase vaccines from producers. Helping to develop the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, he required nations to cofinance vaccine programs as well as keep strict records on vaccine delivery.
What’s the Big Idea?
Through his efforts to get vaccines into the world’s narrowest spaces, Bill Gates has formed some unusual partnerships. Last summer he tourned Chad with president General Idriss Deby, an old ally of the late Colonel Qaddafi. But the results of his efforts are undeniable: “Over the past seven years the price for the standard five-germ inoculation (including diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough) has dropped 40%.” And given private vaccine markets, upstarts have incentives to produce cheaper vaccines, further decreasing prices.