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Bill Gates on coronavirus: 'The fall is going to be worse than the summer'

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor
·4-min read

Billionaire founder of Microsoft (MSFT) Bill Gates hasn’t been shy about his assessment on the U.S. government response to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Gates thinks that things are only going to get worse in the short term.

“The fall is going to be worse than the summer,” Gates told POLITICO. “All the numbers are ticking up and there was always a very good chance … that we would see more transmission. Until the new tools come … all we have is our behavior, wearing masks.”

There are over 7 million confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 210,00 people have died. And according to the White House Task Force, 26 states are now in the coronavirus “red zone” for new cases this week, with 24 in the “yellow zone” and none in the “green zone.”

Bill Gates answers questions after giving a lecture on international aid to parliamentarians and guests in the Robing Room of the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster, London November 10, 2014. The lecture, called ?The Case for Aid: A Conversation with Bill Gates? was given on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in association with "Malaria No More UK", and spoke of the importance of aid in the fight against diseases including malaria and Ebola. REUTERS/Tim Ireland/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS HEALTH SOCIETY)
Bill Gates answers questions after giving a lecture on international aid to parliamentarians and guests in Westminster, London November 10, 2014. REUTERS/Tim Ireland/Pool

‘The worst testing system’

Gates and his wife, Melinda, run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated hundreds of millions of dollars towards coronavirus research, treatment, and testing, along with the search for a vaccine.

Earlier this year, Gates laid out a three-part plan for eliminating coronavirus: developing the capacity to make the necessary vaccines, obtaining the funding to pay for the vaccines, and creating a system to deliver the vaccines worldwide.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science,” Gates said in a previous statement. “It needs breakthrough generosity. When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Accessibility has been something that Gates has criticized on multiple occasions. In a recent interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, he said that the U.S. is “running the worst testing system, in terms of who gets access to it, of any country.”

Cases are up in most parts of the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
Cases are up in most parts of the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

‘It’s mind blowing’

Although Gates is anticipating a spike in cases this fall, he is also optimistic that at least some of the various vaccines in development will receive emergency use authorization by early next year.

“It’s very impressive how the pharmaceutical industry has diverted resources, gotten involved,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “The U.S. government, this is one category we’ve actually done a decent job, has funded the research here.”

There are over 7.8 million cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
There are over 7.8 million cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

At the same time, Gates is critical of the government overreach within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Reports have indicated that the Trump administration blocked the CDC from mandating mask wearing on public transit. And Trump has accused the FDA of being part of “the deep state” trying to delay a vaccine or treatment until after the election because the agency won’t speed up the process of approving a vaccine.

“Let the experts articulate what’s going on here,” Gates said. “They managed to pollute the CDC website … It’s mind blowing. You couldn’t make a movie where the CDC was so undermined [that] whether that director should stay in that job or not or just resign over it is a serious discussion.”

U.S. President Donald Trump gives the podium to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield to address the daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. April 22, 2020.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump gives the podium to CDC Director Robert Redfield to address the daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak task force briefing at the White House April 22, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Nevertheless, Gates is still hopeful of the FDA’s role in the pandemic.

“The FDA, prior to the pandemic, like the CDC, was the gold standard of approving medicines,” Gates said. “Even though there’s been some missteps, I think that integrity is very much intact. This additional waiting for two months after the median participant in the trial — that was a good decision. The whole point of the FDA is to have a bunch of nonpolitical professionals looking at these trade-offs.”

Aarthi Swaminathan contributed reporting.

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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