Five years after his Ted Talk that predicted how unprepared the world was for an epidemic, Gates says stricter measures need to be followed.
In an interview with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on Thursday, the billionaire founder of Microsoft discussed how the large contribution from he and his wife, the philanthropist Melinda Gates, would be allocated—including toward efforts to create a vaccine.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the donation in February. “The funding will help strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics,” the foundation wrote in a release.
In the “Daily Show” interview, Noah and Gates discussed the founder’s past work with infectious diseases, including his foundation’s efforts to eradicate malaria worldwide. Now, Gates says the government waited too long to react to slow the spread of the virus and called for and more steps including social distancing and ramping up testing abilities.
“If we get the right testing capacity, you can change by literally millions the number who are infected, and governments will eventually come up with lots of money for these things,” Gates said.
Gates also said testing is important and should include patients in clinical trials, as scientists work to develop a vaccine.
In a Washington Post op-ed by Gates earlier this week, he called for a national shutdown, which the nation’s leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci also suggested on Thursday. Gates also predicted that the number of cases won’t start to decrease in the U.S. until about 10 weeks after the end of March.
“Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus,” Gates wrote. “The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere.”
Five years ago, Gates gave a chillingly accurate picture of what would happen if a highly contagious disease were to spread during a TED Talk. After citing the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Gates’ main takeaway for a future epidemic was simply, “We’re not ready.”
“We’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic,” Gates said in the TED Talk. “The failure to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than Ebola.”
Gates continued in the Post op-ed that facilities must be ready to manufacture a yet-to-be-developed vaccine across the globe. He wrote that the Trump administration has started to make deals with companies to enact such plans and hopes that more details will follow.
“We should stick with the process that works: Run rapid trials involving various candidates and inform the public when the results are in,” Gates wrote. “As we’ve seen this year, we have a long way to go. But I still believe that if we make the right decisions now, informed by science, data and the experience of medical professionals, we can save lives and get the country back to work.”