Bill Gates has blasted the coronavirus response in the US, calling it “an ugly picture.”
The billionaire philanthropist claims that “serious mistakes were made” in how the coronavirus crisis has been handled, pointing to reopenings and mask compliance as the two main issues.
Gates also said he has regular calls with Dr. Anthony Fauci to update each other on the progress of vaccine research.
Business Insider reports: In an interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, Gates was asked his opinion on the recent spike in coronavirus deaths after the US hit more than 1,000 deaths in one day for the first time since the beginning of June. Early on in the outbreak in the US, Gates had called for a more rigorous and longterm shutdown, saying that the US had already missed its chance to contain the virus by the end of March.
Now, he told CBS, there are a lot of regrets about how the virus response was handled.
“Serious mistakes were made, some of which were because we didn’t understand the virus very well — the understanding about the importance of masks came later than we wish it had, and then the US had the lowest compliance with mask use of any country, didn’t have the leadership message there,” Gates said. “So yes, we have a lot of regrets, but we do have innovations in the pipeline that should reduce the death rate and eventually, by the end of next year, get us out of this terrible situation.”
Gates was also asked about President Donald Trump’s recent assertion that the US had the lowest virus fatality rate, which the Microsoft cofounder said was “not even close” to correct.
“I mean, by almost every measure, the US is the one of the worst and I think we can change that, but it’s an ugly picture,” Gates said. “We actually had criteria for opening up that said you had to have cases declining and we opened up with cases increasing. We somehow got masks as this politicized thing … and some like, harbinger of freedom, that just covering your mouth was awful.”
Now that Trump is endorsing wearing a mask, he said, the US can “move forward” and try to get mask compliance levels closer to Europe’s level and bring down transmission rates.
Gates has been active in the US coronavirus response. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the government on vaccine research, with the foundation committing more than $250 million to help develop coronavirus diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Gates said he has regular calls with Dr. Anthony Fauci where they update each other on the progress of the vaccine research, and that he expects we’ll get some “good vaccine tools” in the first half of 2021.
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