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  • Bill Gates, welcome to The Daily Social Distancing Show.

  • (chuckles): It's great to be on.

  • Let's, uh, jump straight into the first question

  • that everybody would want me to ask.

  • You delivered a TED Talk

  • where you predicted pretty much what is happening now.

  • Now, thanks to the world we live in,

  • that has spouted a bunch of conspiracy theories,

  • everything from "Bill Gates invented this virus

  • to prove himself right," or "He knew it was gonna happen,

  • and that's why he said it."

  • Was that Ted Talk about this virus,

  • or was that a hypothetical that has now come true?

  • Well, I didn't know specifically that it'd be coronavirus

  • and that it would hit in late 2019.

  • But the goal of the talk was to encourage governments

  • to make the investments so we could respond very quickly

  • and keep the case numbers very, very low.

  • And so sadly, this is not a case where,

  • you know, I feel like, "Hey, I told you so,"

  • -Mm-hmm. -uh... it, because we didn't use that time,

  • when it was clear as the biggest threat

  • to kill millions of people,

  • to have the diagnostics standing by,

  • to be ready to ramp up a... a vaccine factory.

  • A few things were done, uh, of some countries.

  • Our foundation funded some work

  • that will help with the vaccines now,

  • will help with the diagnostics.

  • But, uh, you know,

  • well, most of what was called for,

  • particularly in a New England Journal of Medicine article

  • I did that went into way more specifics

  • than I could in a short TED Talk,

  • uh, those things didn't get done,

  • and so that's why it's taking us a long time

  • to get our act together, uh, faced with this threat.

  • Here's a question I have, um, as an individual.

  • How is it that you as a nongovernment

  • knew this information and knew that it needed to be act on...

  • acted on, and governments and organizations

  • that are specifically tasked with protecting people

  • from this very thing

  • either didn't have the information or ignored it?

  • What-what do you think happened there?

  • Because I know you interact with governments.

  • You talk to organizations like the CDC, like the WHO.

  • What went wrong?

  • Well, there are lots of individuals,

  • uh, who were as worried as I was.

  • You know, people like Dr. Fauci,

  • who'd been through various epidemics.

  • And, so, when we had Ebola,

  • Zika, SARS, MERS,

  • we were lucky that they didn't transmit very easily.

  • They weren't, uh, these respiratory viruses

  • where somebody who's not very symptomatic

  • and is still walking around can spread the disease,

  • in some cases to literally dozens of people.

  • So the respiratory transmission,

  • particularly because world travel is so intense,

  • that's where I show the simulation in that speech

  • and say, "This keeps me up at night,

  • uh, more than even war,"

  • which is no small thing.

  • And yet, in terms of being systematic

  • about, okay, let's run a simulation

  • and see how would we reach out to the private sector

  • for tests or ventilators

  • and, uh, what kind of quarantine would we do?

  • You know, as we enter into this,

  • we haven't practiced at all.

  • And so you can see it's, you know,

  • every state is being forced to figure things out on their own,

  • -and, uh, it's very ad hoc. -Mm-hmm.

  • It's not like when a war comes

  • and we've done, you know, 20 simulations

  • of various types of threats

  • and we've made sure that the training,

  • communications, logistics,

  • all those pieces fall into place very rapidly.

  • You are in an interesting position

  • where, in many ways, you are an expert on this topic

  • because of the work that you now do in philanthropy.

  • You know, your goal has been to eradicate malaria

  • across the globe, focusing in Africa.

  • You work with infectious disease.

  • You work with experts in and around infectious disease.

  • When you look at the coronavirus as it stands now...

  • It's happened. Leaders acted late.

  • But what do you think needs to be done going forward?

  • You wrote an interesting op-ed about this,

  • but what do you think we need to do from the ground up?

  • From the people to the leaders to the private sector?

  • Well, the main tools we have right now

  • are the behavioral change,

  • the social distancing,

  • which, uh, often means staying at home most of the time,

  • and the testing capacity to identify

  • who in particular needs to get isolated

  • and then testing their contacts

  • to make sure that we can catch it so early

  • that a lot of people who get sick

  • don't infect anyone else.

  • Now, you know, so, our foundation is engaged

  • in projecting, uh, what's going to go on,

  • the modeling.

  • Uh, our partner IHME

  • is, you know, telling each state what they should think about

  • in terms of ventilators and capacity.

  • Further on out, the work we're doing now

  • to find a therapeutic, a drug to reduce the disease,

  • to cut the deaths down, you know,

  • we're hopeful, uh, that even in six months,

  • some of those will have been approved.

  • Uh, but the ultimate solution,

  • the only thing that really lets us

  • go back completely to normal

  • and feel good about sitting in a stadium

  • with lots of other people is to create a vaccine

  • and not just take care of our country

  • but take that vaccine out

  • to the global population

  • and, uh, so that we have vast immunity

  • and this thing, no matter what,

  • isn't going to spread in large numbers.

  • You have a unique vantage point

  • in that you have been communicating

  • with various governments around the world

  • in and around their COVID-19 response,

  • um, what they plan to do

  • and what they-they haven't done thus far.

  • Which countries do you think we should be looking to

  • for models that work, and can we apply those models

  • to a larger country like the United States?

  • So, you know, many people say Italy and Korea,

  • yes, have their numbers,

  • but they can't necessarily be applied to America.

  • Is that true or not?

  • Or is there a model that does seem to work

  • and should be followed for everybody?

  • Well, countries have differences.

  • You know, uh, South Korea

  • did get a medium-sized infection,

  • but then they used testing,

  • enforced quarantine, contact tracing

  • and really bent the curve,

  • uh, even though it looked pretty scary there for a while.

  • The epidemic in the United States

  • is more widespread, uh, than it ever got in South Korea.

  • So we're like the part of China, uh, Hubei province,

  • where a lot of the cases were in one city, Wuhan.

  • And the U.S. and China are different.

  • You know, the lockdowns that we do

  • won't be as strictly enforced,

  • but they are very, very important.

  • The way we do contact tracing

  • won't be as, uh, invasive

  • and so won't be quite as perfect.

  • But it is very good news that China,

  • uh, although they're maintaining a lot of measures,

  • they are not seeing a rebound.

  • They're not seeing cases coming back

  • even though they are sending people back to the factories,

  • sending people back to schools.

  • And, you know, so, thank goodness,

  • if we're seeing a big rebound there,

  • uh, the idea you could keep it under control

  • once you have a large number of cases,

  • like the U.S. does and many countries in Europe,

  • then it, you know, would seem almost impossible.

  • So it can be done.

  • You know, China ended up

  • with .01% of their population infected.

  • You know, our goal is to stay so it's only a few percent