Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in a blog post, offered a sobering prediction of the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, which includes a “long time” without major live events, months of half-empty restaurants and airplanes, and an “abnormal” existence until a vaccine can be created, which will likely take eighteen months.
Most treatments will fail, Gates writes, but some, like those using antibodies and plasma, may show promise after clinical trials, while others, like hydroxychloroquine, appear to offer modest benefits at best.
Increased testing, aided by new rapid and self-administered diagnostics, will be extremely important, he writes, as will increased contact tracing through digital tools and a national database.
The process of finding a safe vaccine—which typically takes five years—will be hastened, but the goal of vaccinating the global population also hinges on manufacturing capabilities, which will likely be taxed by demand, according to Gates.
The stakes are high, Gates notes, as “every additional month that it takes to produce a vaccine is a month in which the economy cannot completely return to normal.”
While waiting for a vaccine, countries should strive to provide activities that “benefit to the economy or human welfare but pose a small risk of infection,” a tactic that will require trial and error.
government policies restricting activities. When people hear that an infectious disease is spreading widely, they change their behavior. There was never a choice to have the strong economy of 2019 in 2020,” Gates wrote.
Bill Gates, who stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B last month, has long touted the importance of pandemic preparedness. With a net worth of $103 billion, Gates and his wife, Melinda, recently pledged $100 million to coronavirus vaccine research and treatment efforts. The Microsoft founder has also openly criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the outbreak, calling the president’s decision to defund the World Health Organization “as dangerous as it sounds.”