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Bill Gates agrees to cooperate with South Korea on COVID-19 vaccine

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates exchanged a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, according to Seoul. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates exchanged a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, according to Seoul. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 10 (UPI) -- Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates agreed to cooperate with South Korea on developing a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus during a phone call with President Moon Jae-in on Friday.

Gates, who predicted in a 2015 TED Talk that viruses could pose a greater threat to humanity than missiles in the coming decades, described South Korea's approach to tackling COVID-19 as a global model, local news agency Yonhap reported.

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During the 25-minute conversation, Gates reportedly said he wants to meet Moon in person to thank him for his efforts. Moon has demonstrated leadership, Gates said. The U.S. philanthropist has donated more than $6.6 billion for global health programs through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Moon said South Korea has taken part in donations to the world's vaccines and immunization alliance, or GAVI, and plans to contribute funds to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a foundation that takes donations from public and private organizations.

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Moon also said Seoul is working with the Gates Foundation through the Korea-based Right Fund. The fund operates through contributions: about $20 million from South Korea and an additional $10 million from the Gates Foundation.

On Friday Gates said he plans to double the size of the Right Fund. The organization is expected to play a key role in global health and in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, Gates said, according to Seoul.

Moon said he plans to strengthen cooperation with Gates on a COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to delivering humanitarian aid to developing nations most vulnerable to infectious diseases. Gates agreed to cooperate on a vaccine, the presidential Blue House said.

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The South Korean leader added Seoul is supporting pharmaceutical research to develop coronavirus treatments.

Gates has previously credited South Korea for rapid and extensive testing and for its work on digital contact tracing, according to TechCrunch.

"We need to democratize and scale the testing system [in the United States] by having a CDC website that people go to and enter their situation," Gates had said in March.

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