Bill Gates On Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘Things Won’t Go Back To Truly Normal Until We Have A Vaccine’

Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook.
Mike Cohen / Getty Images

Five years ago, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, warned that the United States is not prepared to handle a pandemic outbreak. The coronavirus is now ravaging the nation and his predictions appear to be coming true, so Gates has gotten a lot of media attention, with reporters asking him to weigh in on how the pandemic is being handled.

On Sunday, Gates appeared on Fox News, warning that “things won’t go back to truly normal” until an effective vaccine is developed. Per Mediaite, speaking with anchor Chris Wallace, Gates described the coronavirus pandemic as a “nightmare scenario” for the United States, urging the government to continue with lockdown and social distancing measures.

Such measures, according to Gates, are necessary in order to reduce the risk of having “the majority of the people infected and then a massive number seeking hospital care and lots and lots of death.” If the government doesn’t back down, and if Americans continue following social distancing guidelines, “we should be able to get out of this with the death number well short of” the coronavirus task force’s projections, according to the billionaire.

According to experts appointed to lead the task force, between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die of coronavirus, even if guidelines are strictly followed. “It’s very important that those numbers are out there,” Gates said, noting that he nevertheless believes the number will be significantly lower “if we get the testing fixed, we get all 50 states involved.”

Gates conceded that imposing strict measures would harm the economy, stating that the country will “pay a huge economic price” in order to contain the virus. He warned that normal activities can only resume once a vaccine is available to everyone. “It is fair to say things won’t go back to truly normal until we have a vaccine that we’ve gotten out to basically the entire world,” he said.

President Donald Trump, whose administration recently extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April, warned at Saturday’s White House press briefing that the worst is yet to come. According to the president, the coming week will be “the toughest” week so far, with thousands of Americans dying due to the virus.

Nevertheless, Trump also signaled a willingness to relax social distancing measures and start slowly reopening the economy, arguing that Americans need to “get back to work” in order to avoid an unprecedented economic crisis.

Democratic politicians have criticized the commander-in-chief’s response to the crisis. In an interview on Friday, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who is running for president as a Democrat — argued that the government should ensure that all workers receive “100 percent” of their paycheck during the pandemic. According to Sanders, this has to be done in order to avoid a total collapse of the economy.