What Bill Gates Does With His Billions

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Posted on : 5/15/2020 10:32:00 PM | By : Dann

It should be common knowledge at this point that Bill Gates is using his retirement years to improve living conditions for some of the most impoverished people on the planet.  The foundation that he and his wife, Melinda, operate looks to make a difference in the world on a variety of fronts.

One of those areas is in spreading of vaccines so that people will not catch some of the more commonly preventable diseases.  As a result, Bill Gates has known for years that the random mutation of a nasty bug could significantly impact humanity.  He has been campaigning for awareness and preparedness for years if not decades.

How much does he spend on otherwise underfunded viruses?  A lot.

A recent Wall Street Journal article included a graphic showing the leading sources of spending for neglected infectious diseases.  You will need to scroll about 2/3s the way down to see the bar chart.  It looked to me like his foundation was about fourth in terms of the amount of money spent.

The data came from the Policy Cures Research organization out of Australia.  I thought the bar chart was interesting, but I wanted to see the data.  A short bit of DuckDuckGo-ing later and I was on the Policy Cures Research website and had found this executive summary of their report on research for neglected diseases.  Effectively diseases that are treatable, but for which such treatments are not currently well funded.

The following image came from that report.  These are the top twelve sources of funding for R&D dealing with neglected diseases.  Those twelve sources provide 90% of the funding for neglected diseases.

Click to Embiggen

Take a close look.  Of the top twelve sources, three come from the US government; US NIH at #1, USAID at #7, and the US DOD at #8.  Taken together, the United States provides roughly 43% of the funding for research on these diseases (1.589 Billion US$)

Second place is funding provided by the health care industry.  Private companies donating their research money are the second-largest source of funding into preventing these neglected diseases.  That money comes out of their profits. (694 Million US$)

The thing about those profits is that health care providers to generate them to any significant amount where countries have nationalized health care systems.  Those systems cap payments to providers at slightly above the cost of production.  That cost of production does not include the cost of research and development.

Healthcare profits are disproportionately derived from sales in the United States.  When it comes to funding healthcare R&D, it is the US healthcare consumer (or their insurance company) that is the largest source of funding. 

The healthcare industry would not have enough money to be the second leading provider of research funding in the area of neglected diseases were it not for our comparatively free market and the profits that it generates.

The third leading source of funding for neglected diseases is the Gates Foundation.    In fact, the Gates Foundation donates more money than almost all of the non-US based sources in the rest of the top 12.  (585 Million US$)

Now the population of Europe is over 2.5 times that of the United States.  Yet while the US provides 43% of the funding for neglected disease R&D, the EC provides only 3.3% of the funding.  They can't even be bothered to beat the Gates Foundation that provides 14% of such funding.

Quite frankly, Europeans are not paying their fair share when it comes to funding any healthcare-related research and development.  But it is shocking to see exactly how little they care for the rest of humanity. 

When the private efforts of the healthcare industry and those of a single individual dwarf the contributions of an entire continent, the only reasonable conclusion is that the people of that continent greedily place their own position above that of the rest of humanity.  The people that are most at risk from these neglected diseases are living in poverty in third world nations.

When people like me point out that Europeans are not paying their fair share (healthcare research, their defense, etc.), situations like this one are what informs that opinion.

I'm glad that Bill Gates and his wife are investing their immense wealth in improving the world.  If we left it to the "democratic socialist" nations of Europe, such work would never be funded.