EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft founder Bill Gates said in an exclusive “Fox News Sunday” interview that he believes the United States will be able to get back to normal life around summer 2021 due to progress made on vaccines and he’s “optimistic” the coronavirus pandemic “won’t last indefinitely” — although he also panned President Trump’s handling of the health crisis and said the coronavirus caused “huge setbacks” in human progress in poorer countries.
Gates’ interview with host Chris Wallace came as the tech titan’s charitable foundation is giving $650 million to fight the disease, which is the largest commitment by any independent foundation. Gates told Wallace that much of that money is going toward ensuring that once vaccines are approved, they are able to be manufactured for poor countries as well as more developed countries like the United States.
Gates said that during the coronavirus pandemic, vaccination rates have dropped by 14% in developing countries, erasing 20 years of progress, and that for the first time in years “extreme poverty” is increasing, causing ill-effects on education, mental health, and other indicators that he said is “much greater than I expected.”
“We’re helping seed some R&D money very quickly for the best vaccine approaches, and then making sure that, when we get a vaccine, it’s not just for the rich countries,” Gates said of his foundation’s efforts.
He added that stomping out the pandemic worldwide will help ensure “that the pandemic isn’t just constantly coming back to the United States.”
Gates said he expects vaccine approvals to come by early 2021, as White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci and many others in the government said is a realistic timeline at the rate trials are currently moving. If that is the case, Gates said, “then by next summer the U.S. will be starting to go back to normal. And by the end of the year, our activities can be fairly normal, if we’re also helping these other countries.”
He added: “The end of the epidemic, best case is probably 2022. But during 2021, the numbers, we should be able to drive them down, if we take the global approach. So, you know, thank goodness vaccine technology was there, that the funding came up, that the companies put their best people on it. That’s why I’m optimistic this won’t last indefinitely.”