- Bill Gates believes the US response to the coronavirus pandemic was poorly handled from the very beginning.
- Gates, however, remains encouraged by ongoing efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
- Gates previously said that he believes the US will be able to move past the coronavirus by the end of 2021.
No matter what side of the political divide you happen to fall on, it’s hard to argue that the United States has handled the coronavirus pandemic appropriately and strategically. Whereas former hotspots like Italy have all but moved past the coronavirus at this point, the United States is still struggling to keep the number of new cases down. Just this week, for instance, we saw a surge in new cases across a number of midwestern states. Some states like Wisconsin are even reporting a record number of new coronavirus cases.
Coupled with recent revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book Rage — where Woodward details how Trump back in February decided to downplay the significance and potential danger of the virus — it’s not exactly controversial to say that the overall response to COVID-19 in the U.S. could have been a lot better.
Touching on this very point, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in a recent interview with STAT that the pandemic has been mismanaged from the very beginning.
“You know, this has been a mismanaged situation every step of the way,” Gates said. “It’s shocking. It’s unbelievable — the fact that we would be among the worst in the world.” Gates also highlighted a number of issues involved with COVID-19 testing procedures, from the delays associated with returning test results to the actual testing procedure itself.
Gates is also perplexed as to why testing is still being conducted using nasopharyngeal swabs — an unpleasant procedure that people liken to having your brain stabbed. The Gates Foundation led research that showed swabs circled in the nostril were as accurate and far easier to administer. They also don’t trigger bouts of coughing that can spread the virus.
Gates was also shocked that the CDC last month revised its guidelines to state that people who exhibit no coronavirus symptoms do not need to get tested even if they happened to be in close proximity to someone with a positive coronavirus diagnosis.
Incidentally, Gates a few weeks back had some similarly harsh words with regards to China’s initial coronavirus response.
“Well, the country where a new virus shows up first has the toughest job, because they have no warning at all,” Gates explained. “And so it’s likely to get out in fairly big numbers. They clearly made mistakes. There were warning signs, people talking about it. They didn’t go after it in the month of December and even in January. In retrospect, they could have rung alarm the bell more loudly than they did.”
On a more positive note, Gates did praise the ongoing efforts to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine. Still, Gates previously articulated that the world may not be able to move past the coronavirus for good until 2022.
“You have to admit there’s been trillions of dollars of economic damage done and a lot of debts, but the innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive,” Gates said about a month ago.
“And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022,” Gates added.
While some may initially scoff at Gates talking so authoritatively about the coronavirus, it’s worth mentioning that Gates warned about the danger of a global pandemic years ago.
“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 a TED Talk in 2015. “Not missiles, but microbes. Now, part of the reason for this is that we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”