In a conversation with TIME, Bill Gates argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the global economy trillions of dollars.

At the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting on Nov. 8, Gates also discussed pandemic preparedness. The Event is dedicated to finding solutions for major problems in global health and development. In his speech, he called for research into drugs and vaccines that can target multiple diseases; shots that are thermostable and longer-lasting than current COVID-19 vaccines; and shots that could deliver the equivalent of multiple doses at once.

At the Grand Challenges meeting, the Foundation pledged $50 million to support the work of scientists in low- and middle-income countries, with a particular emphasis on funding female investigators. It will also award grants of up to $1 million to 14 researchers in Africa.

The philanthropist reportedly stepped down from Microsoft’s board last year during an investigation into his past relationship with a female employee. Gates’ spokespeople have said his resignation was unrelated to that matter and that he wanted to focus on philanthropy. He co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with ex-wife Melinda French Gates.

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