Bill Gates has warned that any vaccine against coronavirus could take several doses to be effective, as he described ‘serious mistakes’ made by the Trump administration and said some schools may not be back to normal until the fall of 2021.
The Microsoft founder, who now directs much of his time and energy to his global health foundation, said that the closure of schools was, after deaths, the ‘biggest cost’ of the pandemic.
And, in an interview with Norah O’Donnell on CBS News, aired on Wednesday night, the Seattle-based billionaire was critical of Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis.
‘Some of the policies were a mistake,’ said Gates.
‘Opening up bars – the economic benefit versus the infection risk – a lot of policies like that made it a mistake.’
Gates, 64, emphasized that key to combating the virus was social distancing, wearing masks, and developing a vaccine.
His foundation has donated $300 million to support the efforts.
On the issue of a vaccine, Gates said he had faith in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finding a safe and reliable vaccine.
But he warned that it would take ‘unbelievably big numbers‘ of doses to wipe the virus out.
‘None of the vaccines at this point appear like they’ll work with a single dose,’ Gates said. ‘That was the hope at the very beginning.’
Gates, who has been warning about the threat of a global pandemic since 2015, admitted that ‘there will be a lot of uncertainty’ about the efficacy of any vaccine, but stressed that it’s a solution ‘that will improve over time.’
Gates said that he was dismayed by the response from the Trump administration, although he conceded that some of the ‘serious mistakes’ were made ‘because we didn’t understand the virus very well.’
Among those mistakes was not encouraging people to wear face masks, and reopening too quickly, he said.
He said Europe, in general, responded better.
‘Their leadership communicated with a clear voice; their scientists were encouraged to go on tv rather than banned; and their population benefited,’ he said.
‘Just the idea that the CDC isn’t being heard from, and that Fauci is being limited – you’d never have predicted that. It’s really unexpected that you’d not have the experts able to share.’
Gates said the gagging of experts was ‘holding us back’ from receiving ‘the benefit of their expertise’.
He said the campaign by anti-vaxxers, worried about a COVID vaccination was ‘always a concern’. He emphasized that vaccines had halved childhood deaths over the last 20 years.
Asked about conspiracy theories that he was responsible for creating the virus, or implanting microchips within a potential vaccine, Gates, with a wry smile, said he had no idea where that baseless suggestion came from.
‘No, there is no connection between any of these vaccines and any tracking type thing,’ he said. ‘I have no idea where this came from.’