Bill Gates says he’s optimistic about the world’s chances of seeing through the wilder theories from anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy theorists and of beating the COVID-19 coronavirus.
How confident are you we’ll have a working vaccine that can be widely distributed by the end of 2020?
Bill Gates: Well, the initial vaccine won’t be ideal in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission. It may not have a long duration, and it will mainly be used in rich countries as a stopgap measure.
We’d be lucky to have much before the end of the year. But then, in 2021, a number of other vaccines are very likely to get approved. The strongest response will probably come from the protein subunit. With so many companies working on it, we can afford quite a few failures and still have something with low cost and long duration.
Given the [anti-vaxxer’s] skepticism, should a COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?
Gates: Making something mandatory can often backfire. But you might say that if you’re going to work in an old-folks home or have any exposure to elderly people, it would be required.
What about the conversation around hydroxychloroquine?
Gates: In the test tube, hydroxychloroquine looked good. On the other hand, there are lots of good therapeutic drugs coming that are proven to work without the severe side effects.
How do you think this all ends?
Gates: The innovations in therapeutics will start to cut the death rate, but the true end will come from the spread of natural infections and the vaccine giving us herd immunity. For rich countries, that will be sometime next year, ideally in the first half. We’ll get out of this by the end of 2021.
So we’re going to be OK?
Gates: Certainly. We’re lucky this one wasn’t a more fatal disease.
MacDailyNews Take: Bill Gates, the man who missed the Internet and who, without a feckless IBM and Steve Jobs from whom to copy poorly, would be just another nebbish spaghetti coder. So, as always, take his prognostications with a grain of salt.
That said, hopefully the vaccine will come more quickly than many thought possible earlier this year as the U.S.’s Operation Warp Speed accelerates development by funding steps to proceed simultaneously versus the usual sequential process.
Until then, try to be as safe as you can be – wash your hands frequently, keep your hands away from your face, wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, etc.
As of May 30, 2020, among COVID-19 cases, the most common underlying health conditions were cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%), and chronic lung disease (18%). Hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths 12 times higher among those with reported underlying conditions compared with those with none reported.
The CDC guidelines for how to protect yourself and others — especially older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes and are at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 — are here.