American philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates has predicted that the ongoing rollout of coronavirus vaccines may help the pandemic-hit world return to normal life next year.
In an interview with the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and Polish television broadcaster TVN24 on Thursday, the Microsoft co-founder described the pandemic as "an incredible tragedy", adding that the only good news was access to COVID-19 vaccines.
"By the end of 2022 we should be basically completely back to normal", Gates asserted.
He also praised efforts by several countries, such as Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand to conduct early PCR tests for COVID-19 among the population, which helped them avoid exponential growth in coronavirus infections.
According to the billionaire, the US as well as most countries in Europe and South America failed to do and paid the price.
The remarks follow Gates telling CBS Evening News in mid-February about the need to administer a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine amid fears that current vaccines are less effective against the new virus strains.
"The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that's just the same, or do we need a modified vaccine?", he said.
In late January, the Microsoft co-founder tweeted that he received his first dose of the COVID vaccine and that he felt "great". He also thanked "all of the scientists, trial participants, regulators, and frontline healthcare workers who got us to this point".
One of the benefits of being 65 is that I’m eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. I got my first dose this week, and I feel great. Thank you to all of the scientists, trial participants, regulators, and frontline healthcare workers who got us to this point. pic.twitter.com/67SIfrG1Yd— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 22, 2021
As for Gates' Gazeta Wyborcza interview, it comes after President Joe Biden announced last week that the US was on track to achieve the goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots within the first 100 days of his presidency.
In a separate development, several European countries, including the Netherlands, France, Italy, Sweden, and Denmark, have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine following reports that the jab could cause blood clotting.