Bill Gates has warned the United States isn’t even halfway through the coronavirus pandemic but he hopes any potential peak later this year won’t be as bad as the current one.
The billionaire philanthropist also described access to testing in the US as ‘chaotic’ but said he was hopeful that a vaccine could be created within the speculated one to two year time-frame.
‘I wish I could say that we’re halfway through, but I don’t think so. It takes time to make a vaccine… There’s a lot about the disease we don’t know about. It’s going to be a while before things go back to normal,’ he told NBC’s Today on Friday.
‘Usually a vaccine takes over five years… The best scientists are working hard on this, and I’m hopeful. In fact, in the last few weeks I’ve seen signs that we may get to the optimistic side of that time projection.’
Bill Gates has warned the United States isn’t even halfway through the coronavirus pandemic but he hopes any potential peak later this year won’t be as bad as the current one
The Microsoft founder said he feared many states would reopen too quickly and that people would become complacent, which could potentially see a surge in infections.
He said he hopes a second wave of infections predicted in the Fall won’t be as bad as what is currently being experienced now.
‘If we’re still being careful about social contact, if we’ve got the testing capacity up, I’m hopeful that the fall will not be nearly as bad as this first peak,’ he said.
‘Many countries decided that at the national level they would orchestrate the testing. That hasn’t happened in the United States – it might not happen. The access to tests is just, you know, chaotic.’
Gates, who has been predicting a global pandemic for several years, said human to human respiratory spread was the ‘scariest scenario’.
‘It’s a nightmare. I wish had it come five or 10 years later, then government might have done the preparations to move quickly like a few governments did and the technologies would have been further along,’ he said.
It comes after he compared COVID-19 to World War II and said ‘it’s impossible to overstate the pain’ that will be felt for ‘years to come’.
In a lengthy memo posted online, Gates detailed how ‘the first modern pandemic’ will define a generation.
He wrote: ‘This is like a world war, except in this case, we’re all on the same side.
‘It is impossible to overstate the pain that people are feeling now and will continue to feel for years to come.’
Gates and his wife Melinda have already donated around $45 billion towards vaccination research to tackle pandemics through their foundation.
Gates said in his post: ‘Melinda and I grew up learning that World War II was the defining moment of our parents’ generation. In a similar way, the COVID-19 pandemic—the first modern pandemic—will define this era.
‘No one who lives through Pandemic 1 will ever forget it.’
Describing how society will comeback from lockdowns Gates said to ‘picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table and airplanes where every middle seat is empty’.
He warned: ‘If in the spring of 2021 people are going to big public events—like a game or concert in a stadium—it will be because we have a miraculous treatment that made people feel confident about going out again.
‘Schools are open, but you can’t fill a stadium with 70,000 people.
‘People are working some and spending some of their earnings, but not as much as they were before the pandemic. In short, times are abnormal but not as abnormal as during the first phase.’
Gates and his wife Melinda have already donated around $45 billion towards vaccination research to tackle pandemics through their foundation
Microsoft co-founder Gates and his wife Melinda have already donated around $45 billion towards vaccination research to tackle pandemics through their foundation. Board Certified Chaplain Bill Simpson prays with a patient in Shawnee, Oklahoma
Demonstrators in Annapolis, Maryland demand that Gov. Larry Hogan lift restrictions that have closed businesses since the coronavirus outbreak
But he did offer reason for optimism, writing: ‘During World War II, an amazing amount of innovation, including radar, reliable torpedoes, and code-breaking, helped end the war faster. This will be the same with the pandemic.’
Gates, who said lockdowns have saved millions of lives, has been outspoken throughout the outbreak.
In March he urged the public to practice social distancing and pleaded for Donald Trump to implement a country-wide shutdown as he predicted that COVID-19 cases would peak in late April.
In a TED interview last month Gates didn’t mention Trump by name but expressed dismay over his leadership as the president pushed to reopen the country.
Gates has slammed world leaders for not investing in testing and equipment sooner when the virus first came to light in China last December.
The billionaire slammed governments for not preparing for a pandemic by simulating possible scenarios and stress-testing their infrastructure.
The couple have long spoken about the fears of a pandemic and had warned that the world was not prepared to respond at a global level.
Melinda Gates said the world is likely to be permanently changed by the pandemic and predicted there could more similar outbreaks in the future.
Bill said Thursday: ‘The basic principal should be to allow activities that have a large benefit to the economy or human welfare, but pose a small risk of infection.’