American entrepreneur and Microsoft founder Bill Gates has made a number of critical remarks regarding the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
During a recent interview with Wired, Gates identified three particular time periods, all of which he described as "disappointments".
First, he pointed at 2015, "until this particular pandemic hit", arguing that "if we had built up the diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine platforms, and if we’d done the simulations to understand what the key steps were, we’d be dramatically better off".
"Then there’s the time period of the first few months of the pandemic, when the US actually made it harder for the commercial testing companies to get their tests approved, the CDC had this very low volume test that didn’t work at first, and they weren’t letting people test", Gates said. "The travel ban came too late, and it was too narrow to do anything. Then, after the first few months, eventually we figured out about masks, and that leadership is important".
Gates noted that he is "surprised at the US situation because the smartest people on epidemiology in the world, by a lot, are at the CDC", noting that he'd have expected them to "do better".
"You would expect the CDC to be the most visible, not the White House or even Anthony Fauci. But they haven’t been the face of the epidemic", he remarked. "They are trained to communicate and not try to panic people but get people to take things seriously. They have basically been muzzled since the beginning. We called the CDC, but they told us we had to talk to the White House a bunch of times".
He also said that people not "getting their tests back quickly enough", as the interviewer put it, is "just stupidity", adding that "the majority of all US tests are completely garbage, wasted".
However, Gates said "yes" when asked whether he was feeling optimistic at this point, arguing that, despite "trillions of dollars of economic damage" and "a lot of debts", the "innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive".
"And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022", he said. "That is only because of the scale of the innovation that’s taking place".
Earlier, Gates warned that come fall, the US may witness an increase in death tolls comparable to those during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, though he also noted an apparent reduction in the risk of death from the coronavirus.