Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said the current picture of the national and global coronavirus pandemic is “more bleak” than he expected. During an appearance at a coronavirus town hall Thursday night on CNN, Gates said the fact that people are still dying in the US shows that the country is “not even close” to doing enough to stop the virus.
“It’s possible to ramp up testing for a new pathogen very, very fast,” Gates told hosts Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “In fact, a number of countries did that extremely well in this case and the technology keeps getting better there. The US in particular hasn’t had the leadership messages or coordination that you would have expected.”
As of Friday, there are more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and more than 124,000 deaths, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center. Gates said the large numbers are due to lack of testing and contact tracing, as well as the resistance to wearing face masks.
“The range of behaviors in the US right now, some people being very conservative in what they do, and some people ignoring the epidemic, is huge,” Gates said. “Some people almost feel like it’s a political thing, which is unfortunate.”
Gate, who funds medical research and vaccine programs through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has become a target for coronavirus misinformation amid the pandemic.
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An analysis done by The New York Times and media watcher Zignal Labs in April said that misinformation about Gates was the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods. A survey published in May found that a false conspiracy theory about Gates using a future to implant people with tracking microchips had gained traction among Fox News viewers, Republicans and Trump voters.
Gates has dismissed the wrongful theories, saying it’s “almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange.”