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, 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.
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 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.
Bill Gates, 64, formerly the richest man in the world, in a 2015 TED Talk warned about the need to prepare for global health crises.
During the speaking engagement, Gates reflected on the 2014 Ebola outbreak and said global societies were not ready for a future epidemic, urging countries to prepare supplies and expertise.
He said: ‘In the movies it’s quite different. There’s a group of handsome epidemiologists ready to go, they move in, they save the day, but that’s just pure Hollywood.’
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.
Bill Gates, 64, formerly the richest man in the world, in a 2015 TED Talk warned about the need to prepare for global health crises
The Bill ansd Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $300million to develop treatments and vaccines targeting COVID-19
‘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.
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.’