By Luke McGrath
(Bloomberg) — To Bill Gates, 2021 did not bring as much improvement to the pandemic as he had hoped.
With more Covid-19 deaths this year than in 2020, the delta variant and challenges with vaccine uptake, progress has been underwhelming, the billionaire indicated in a year in review post on his blog Tuesday.
“I underestimated how tough it would be to convince people to take the vaccine and continue to use masks,” Gates said.
But the Microsoft Corp. co-founder is optimistic about 2022. “I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come to a close some time in 2022,” Gates said.
His prediction comes as the world deals with a new variant and in the US cases are are approaching 50 million.
“There’s no question that the Omicron variant is concerning,” Gates said. “But here’s what we do know: The world is better prepared to tackle potentially bad variants than at any other point in the pandemic so far.” Gates estimated that while it’s currently approximately 10 times more lethal than the flu, vaccines and antivirals could reduce that by 50%. “Communities will still see occasional outbreaks, but new drugs will be available that could take care of most cases and hospitals will be able to handle the rest.”
Gates, the world’s fourth-richest person, worth US$135 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, also touched on disinformation and the role it’s played in discouraging the vaccine. He expressed concern over “the ability of governments to get big things done” and called for regulating what social media can be used for.
The tech billionaire turned philanthropist also expressed sadness over his divorce from Melinda French Gates.
The pair announced in May they were separating after 27 years of marriage, and in the aftermath there were reports detailing rumours of infidelity and long-simmering tensions between the two. It also raised questions about how the pair would run their US$50 billion philanthropic powerhouse. Gates said they continue to run their foundation together and have “found a good new working rhythm.”
“I can’t deny that it’s been a year of great personal sadness for me. Adapting to change is never easy, no matter what it is. I’ve been impressed by how resilient my loved ones—especially my kids—have been in this challenging time,” Gates said.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.