Bill Gates urged Donald Trump to make national preparedness for a pandemic a priority just weeks before he entered the White House, the Microsoft co-founder claims.
Gates met with then-President-elect Trump at Trump Tower in New York City in December 2016.
The billionaire philanthropist said that he made his pitch to Trump as well as his opponent in the presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to The Wall Street Journal.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the White House for comment.
Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been widely criticized as the nation’s death toll and case count continue to rise while readily available testing appears far off.
Bill Gates says that he warned President Trump before he took office that the United States needed to be prepared for a pandemic. Gates is seen left at Trump Tower in New York City on December 13, the day he met with then-President-elect Trump at his residence
More than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits while Americans have become accustomed to images of miles-long lines of cars waiting outside food banks.
More than 80,000 Americans have died of COVID-19-related illness – with the death toll expected to surpass 100,000 in the next few weeks.
The president, meanwhile, has claimed that his administration is testing more than any other country in the world, though statistics do not bear this out.
Trump has also touted a travel ban he imposed on China, which he claims saved millions of lives.
The president has also been on the defensive amid reports that he was warned about the dangers of a pandemic as early as January.
Trump is reported to have dismissed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as ‘alarmist’ after he tried to warn the president of the seriousness of the situation.
The above image shows women in a barber shop in Orlando, Florida, on Monday. States are beginning to reopen businesses that were shut down during a weekslong lockdown
Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser, wrote two memos – one in late January and another in late February – also warning of a pandemic reaching American shores.
Trump has denied the reports that he ignored early warnings of the pandemic’s arrival.
Meanwhile, Gates on Monday lamented that he did not do more to alert the world of the dangers of a fast-spreading infectious disease – even though he gave a famous TED talk in 2015 warning that humanity was not ready for a pandemic.
‘I wish I had done more to call attention to the danger,’ Gates told the Journal.
‘I feel terrible.’
The second-wealthiest man in the world added: ‘The whole point of talking about it was that we could take action and minimize the damage.’
During that TED Talk, Gates predicted a global pandemic would kill many people and grind the world economy to a halt.
He said that if the wealthiest nations had prepared for a pandemic with the same urgency that they prepared for nuclear war, the current crisis could have been avoided.
‘If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,’ Gates said at the time.
‘Not missiles, but microbes.’
Gates said that the prospect of a global pandemic was overlooked by governments, even after recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus.
Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Gates said that the world was lucky that the Ebola outbreak was limited to West Africa.
Ebola, unlike coronavirus, renders those carrying it as too ill and weak to walk around and infect others.
Medics take a patient in severe respiratory distress to an ambulance from a group home next to Maimonides Medical Center in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Monday. Gates says he regrets not doing more to sound the alarm about the pandemic
Gates also chalked it up to sheer luck that Ebola didn’t spread into urban areas.
‘Next time, we might not be so lucky,’ the multi-billionaire philanthropist said.
Gates urged Western governments to view pandemics the same way they view military threats.
He noted that while countries run drills known as ‘war games’ to prepare for future military conflict, it should also run simulations known as ‘germ games’ to be better prepared for widespread illness.
Gates warned: ‘We’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we’ve invested very little in a system to stop epidemics. We are not ready for the next epidemic.’
Since stepping down from his role as the top executive at Microsoft, Gates has devoted himself to philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
One of the organization’s main functions is to eradicate disease in underdeveloped parts of the world.
Gates’ newfound expertise on infectious diseases has made him a frequent commentator on television during news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spread of the coronavirus is ‘the most dramatic thing ever in my lifetime by a lot,’ Gates told the Journal.
Gates said that the pandemic has disrupted his foundation’s earlier projects which included eradicating polio and vaccinating children in low-income countries.
The foundation has so far committed $305million toward research for a vaccine.
Gates pledged that before the pandemic is over, ‘we will end up spending a lot more.’
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates gave a TED Talk in 2015 warning that the world was ill-prepared for a global pandemic
He realizes that while he has more resources than most people, governments are the only entities that can marshal the necessary tools to find a solution.
‘I’m putting hundreds of millions of the foundation’s money into this,’ he said.
‘But it’s really a governmental thing, just like the defense budget is there to help with an outbreak of war.’
Gates said that during his discussions with world leaders, they agreed with him on the need to be prepared for the pandemic.
But most countries were reluctant to spend the necessary funds to protect themselves because there did not appear to be an immediate threat.
‘I wish the warnings that I and other people gave had led to more coordinated global action,’ he said.
Melinda Gates slams Trump administration for creating ‘chaos’ and showing lack of leadership in coronavirus response
- Gates, 55, recently spoke to Today’s Savannah Guthrie and Politico about federal government’s response to COVID-19
- She accused Trump administration of lack of national leadership and gave its handling of the crisis a ‘D-minus’ grade
- Gates cited Germany as an example of a country that has been able to keep certain sectors of its economy open thanks to its leadership
- Gates bluntly said she was ‘disappointed’ by President Trump’s response to the pandemic, which she said has created ‘chaos’
Melinda Gates openly condemned the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that a lack of leadership at the national level has led to ‘chaos’ across the board.
The billionaire philanthropist, who co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with her Microsoft co-founder husband, did not mince words when asked to weigh in on America’s handling of the global health crisis in an interview with Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie on Friday.
‘I’m both surprised we weren’t better prepared, but quite honestly I’m surprised we’ve wasted so much time. That we haven’t had leadership at the national level to get out tests in the right way, protective gear in the right way, contact tracing in the right way,’ Gates said.
‘With lack of leadership, there are 50 homegrown state solutions, and that just shouldn’t be.’
Melinda Gates was interviewed via Skype by Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s Today on Thursday about the government’s response to the coronavirus
Gates slammed President Donald Trump for lack of leadership, claiming that his government has been behind the ball on everything from testing to contract tracing
The Bill ansd Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $300million to develop treatments and vaccines targeting COVID-19
Gates, 55, cited Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the helm as an example of a country that has been able to keep certain sectors of its economy ‘safely’ open thanks to its national leadership, which has been guided by science.
‘That’s the kind of leadership we should expect as citizens in this country, and we’re not getting it,’ Gates added. ‘And so you’re seeing what’s happening. And it’s chaos.’
When asked by Guthrie if she blames President Donald Trump, Gates replied: ‘I’m disappointed in what I’ve been seeing, yes.’
In a separate interview with Politico on Thursday, Gates awarded the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic a lackluster grade of ‘D-minus,’ citing its failure to coordinate efforts at the top.
She argued that the government needs to invest more money in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, as well as in vaccine development, in order to safely reopen the country.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to Politico that Trump had taken an ‘unprecedented approach’ to working with governors to deliver the states the critical supplies they need.
‘The White House has been working with Governors and their teams since January on this whole-of-government response,’ the spokesman told the news outlet.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was launched 20 years ago to eradicate diseases like polio and malaria around the world, in February committed $300million to help find treatments and vaccines targeting COVID-19.
In her interview on NBC’s Today last week, Melinda Gates said she believes the US is still in the beginning stages of the pandemic and urged caution.
‘To reopen, we need to do far more testing and tracing, and we need to be very careful and go very slowly as we reopen,’ she explained.
‘You should never be reopening in places where you go accelerating disease.’
When asked about the ongoing search for a vaccine, Gates said the timeline she’s been hearing from scientists is 12-18 months, but she added there are ‘a few good candidates.’
As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 1.3million confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and more than 80,000 deaths.
In April, the Trump administration, which has been eager to jump-start the hobbled economy plagued by soaring unemployment numbers, announced the launch of Operation Warp Speed, which seeks to rapidly develop, produce and distribute 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.
Guthrie told Gates during the interview that she was recently told by Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has been leading the national response to the pandemic, that the timetable of the operation laid out by the government was feasible.
When asked for her take on the plan, Gates sounded highly skeptical.
‘Boy, that would be lucky to have hundreds of millions of doses by January,’ she said.
‘I’m not sure how likely that is. These things take time because we have to know that there are safe. So, I’m hopeful…would I say it’s likely? I’d hesitate a bit on that one.’