Bill Gates aims for 200m Covid-19 vaccine kits by next summer                          

Bill Gates aims for 200m Covid-19 vaccine kits by next summer                          
Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)

SK Bioscience, the South Korean pharmaceutical company backed by Bill Gates, may be capable of producing 200 million coronavirus vaccine kits by next June, the Microsoft founder said in a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Mr Gates is seeking to cooperate closely with South Korea, the presidential office in Seoul said, citing the July 20 letter. 

The US billionaire and President Moon spoke by phone in April about teaming up to fight the virus and develop a vaccine. 

The world is in a race to develop a vaccine that could protect masses against a virus that has wreaked havoc on the global economy. 

Mr Gates has said investment in factories across the world can ensure regions beyond the US won’t be left behind in the rush for Covid-19 vaccines. 

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the Republican stimulus bill will contain an extended unemployment-benefit proposal to replace 70% of jobless individuals’ lost wages.

Appearing Sunday on This Week on ABC, Mr Meadows said the proposal, to be unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, won’t revive the $600 supplemental unemployment payments that were part of the stimulus passed in March and expired last week.

“The original unemployment benefits actually paid people to stay at home” and the administration and Republican-led Senate isn’t going to do that again, Mr Meadows said.

Of the proposal to be offered by McConnell, Mr Meadows said, “We are going to be prepared 70% of whatever the wages you were prior to being unemployed,” adding, “hopefully to get people back on their feet.” 

While Mr Meadows didn’t offer details, such a federal approach would increase state benefits so that every jobless American would get 70% of their previous pay. States now provide an average of 45% of a worker’s previous pay.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made similar comments on Fox News Sunday

“We want to have something which pays people about 70% wage replacement, which I think is a very fair level,” Mr Mnuchin said. 

- Bloomberg

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