Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates called the coronavirus pandemic a “nightmare scenario.”
However, he predicted that the U.S. could see less than 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from COVID-19 before the outbreak is under control.
Gates said if people continue practicing safe social distancing and remain in quarantine, cases should begin leveling off toward the end of this month.
The coronavirus pandemic is a “nightmare scenario,” but the death toll due to the disease may not be as high as some, including President Donald Trump, have predicted, according to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Trump last week predicted that the U.S. could see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from COVID-19 before the outbreak is under control, echoing forecasts from White House health advisor Anthony Fauci.
“If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with a death number well short of that,” Gates told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He said it’s “very important” those figures are out there so people understand the severity of the situation.
As of Sunday, there were at least 312,245 confirmed cases, including more than 8,500 deaths, in the U.S. Globally, there are more than 1.2 million cases and at least 65,711 deaths.
Gates, who resigned from Microsoft’s board last month to focus on his philanthropic efforts, said if people continue practicing safe social distancing and remain in quarantine, cases should begin leveling off toward the end of this month.
Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board
“This is a nightmare scenario because human-to-human transmittal respiratory viruses can grow exponentially,” he said. “And you know, if we had kept on going to work, traveling like we were, you know, that curve would never bend until you had the majority of the people infected and then a massive number seeking hospital care and lots of lots of deaths.”
Gates predicted things won’t “go back to truly normal until we have a vaccine that we’ve gotten out to basically the entire world.”
Gates said previously that the U.S. missed its chance to avoid mandated shutdowns because it didn’t act fast enough on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In 2015, Gates warned that a disease more than a war was a threat to causing millions of deaths in the decades to come.
In a Washington Post op-ed published last week, Gates called for a national shutdown and more testing, to “quickly identify potential volunteers for clinical trials and know with confidence when it’s time to return to normal.”
Gates gave a Ted Talk in 2015 in which he warned that “we’re not ready for the next epidemic,” but offered hope by saying “we can build a really good response system” to prepare. His suggestions included setting up a medical reserve corps to be paired with the military, and “germ games” similar to military war games that could be used to run simulations.
“But between 2015 and 2020, less than 5 percent of what should have been done was done,” Gates told host Chris Wallace.
Gates did note that the current pandemic “isn’t the worst case,” given the relatively low fatality rate compared to a disease like small pox.
“So this is super, super bad, but — you know, we will eventually get a vaccine. Even before then, if we do the right things we’ll be able to open up significant parts of the economy,” he said.
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Gates also said that the current crisis could serve as a learning experience so the world can be better prepared in the event of a future pandemic that could be even worse.
“I’m sure you know, once we get past this, we’ll look back, understand what we could have done differently, and make sure that we’re not letting it happen again, particularly because it could be even worse in terms of the fatality rate,” he said.