Billionaire paints gloomy picture for chance of returning to normality
Billionaire vaccine enthusiast Bill Gates has warned that COVID-19 lockdown measures will need to remain in place all through next year with there being no hope of a return to normality until at least 2022.
The billionaire Microsoft founder says he expects that coronavirus-related shuttering of restaurants will continue for the next six months.
Gates offered his predictions during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
He painted the grim picture as the US set new records for new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over a seven-day period.
Asked how bad he thinks the pandemic will get in the next few months before vaccines become widely available, he warned that the worst is still yet to come.
“Well, sadly, the next four to six months could be the worst of the epidemic,” Gates told Tapper.
“Forecast shows over 200,000 additional deaths,” Gates, who isn’t a qualified health official, claimed.
“If we would follow the rules in terms of wearing masks and not mixing, we could avoid a large percentage of those deaths.
“So in the near term, it’s bad news.”
He went on to signal his support for drastic restrictions – including California Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest stay-at-home order affecting more than 75 percent of the state.
“Well certainly mask-wearing has essentially no downsides,” Gates said.
“Bars and restaurants in most of the country will be closed as we go into this wave, and I think sadly that’s appropriate.”
“You don’t want somebody you love to be the last to die of coronavirus,” he added.
Gates noted that deciding whether to keep schools open is more “complicated” than other businesses because the benefits of in-person learning are high while transmission rates among children are low.
“Tradeoffs will have to be made, but the next four to six months really call on us to do our best because we can see that this will end,” he said.
Tapper then probed: “When do you think life will fully return to what we thought of as normal back in January?
“No masks, no social distancing, no other protective measures necessary.”
Gates replied: “Certainly, by the summer we will be way closer to normal than we are now – but even through early 2022, unless we help other countries get rid of this disease and we get high vaccination rates in our country, the risk of reintroduction will be there.
“And, of course, the global economy will be slowed down, which hurts America economically in a pretty dramatic way.
“So we will have, starting in the summer, about nine months where a few things like big public gatherings will still be restricted.
“But we can see now that somewhere between 12 to 18 months, we have a chance, if we manage it well, to get back to normal.”
At another point in the interview, Tapper mentioned how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced a new $250million pledge to fight the pandemic, on top of the $1billion it had already committed.
Gates said that funding would be focused on creating a vaccine for use not just in the US but around the world.
He also addressed rampant online rumors and criticisms of his and his wife Melinda Gates’ interest in vaccines.
He insists that such rumors “surprised” him, despite neither himself nor Melinda being qualified doctors or scientsists.
“You know, I’m not even quite sure how to react,” he said.
“Dr. Fauci and I believe in vaccines.
“Vaccines have saved millions of lives.
“That is what our foundation is all about and so our expertise was valuable here in getting the scale-up of those things.
“You’ve got to be willing to speak out publicly, even if it’s not always well understood.
“I do worry will this make people not want to take the vaccine,” he added.