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Multiple vaccine doses could be necessary to protect from coronavirus, Bill Gates says

Bill Gates on "serious mistakes" in COVID response
Bill Gates says "serious mistakes were made" in U.S. pandemic response 28:30

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Wednesday that people could need multiple doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine to immunize themselves from the coronavirus. If necessary, the multiple doses could require more than 7 billion vaccinations to be administered worldwide.

"None of the vaccines at this point appear like they'll work with a single dose," Gates said. "That was the hope at the very beginning."

The billionaire philanthropist, who has donated $300 million towards the global effort to combat COVID-19 through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell that deploying a coronavirus vaccine will require a global effort.

"If what you're trying to do is block all the transmission, then you need to get 70-80% coverage on a global basis. So it's unbelievably big numbers," he said.

Gates, who has been warning about the threat of a global pandemic since 2015, admitted that "there will be a lot of uncertainty" about the efficacy of any vaccine, but stressed that it's a solution "that will improve over time."

The Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses a month apart, will start a crucial step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

When asked if the eventual vaccine will be safe, Gates said the FDA — as it stands — will be able to prevent an unsafe vaccine from going on the market.

"The FDA, not being pressured, will look hard at that," Gates said of potential side effects. "The FDA is the gold standard of regulators, and their current guidance on this — if they stick with that — is very very appropriate."

Bill Gates on the U.S. handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine misinformation 03:22

The U.S. on Wednesday reported more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. With 142,677 deaths in total, the U.S. has had the most deaths of any country by far, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. President Trump, however, said this week that the U.S. has the lowest mortality rate in the world. 

Gates said that the president's statement is not factually correct. "Not at all, not even close," Gates said. "By almost every measure, the U.S. is one of the worst."

"We opened up with cases increasing," Gates said. He also pointed to low mask compliance, a muzzling of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a general lack of leadership as reasons why U.S. cases have not subsided. 

"Serious mistakes were made," he said.

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