Bill Gates
Bill GatesReuters

US billionaire Bill Gates on Saturday said he was "optimistic" about the global battle against COVID-19, AFP reported.

He also urged against distributing coronavirus drugs to the "highest bidders," emphasizing that they should go to "where they are most needed."

In a video message at a virtual conference Saturday, Gates said, "If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidders, instead to the people in the place where they are most needed, we will have a longer and more unjust, deadlier pandemic."

He added that, "We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market driven factors."

The pandemic has caused disruptions to the medication supply chain, which "could prevent hundreds of thousands of people from getting the treatment they need - and not just in sub-Saharan Africa."

"But I remain optimistic. We will defeat COVID-19 and we will continue to make strides against AIDS and other health crisis. Better diagnostic tools are being developed to identify those infected. Investments are being made in libraries of anti-viral drugs which has been an under-invested branch of science. Also, we are making great progress on vaccines."

"These platforms won’t just be useful against this particular virus," he added. "They will also help us specifically for HIV. Of course, there is a big difference between getting a platform and making sure we get the products out to everyone who needs them."

But he noted that "whether it is AIDS or COVID-19, global cooperation and resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they are needed most is critical."

In June, Gates' foundation pledged $7.4 billion to Gavi, a global vaccines alliance, to help immunization programs disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

During a UK-hosted virtual summit in June, Gates pledged $1.6 billion from his foundation to help fund the distribution of vaccines.