Bill Gates says a number of the world’s governments have handled the spread of Covid-19 higher than others, however the billionaire won’t give any country an ideal mark.
“I would not say any country got it totally right,” Gates said in a recent interview on the Lowy Institute, a think tank in Sydney, Australia, adding: “No person … gets an ‘A’ on this one.”
The Microsoft co-founder and health care philanthropist has each praised and criticized multiple world governments’ responses to the pandemic because the coronavirus’s initial spread in late 2019.
As early as March 2020, Gates argued that the U.S. “didn’t act fast enough” to take extreme quarantining measures, like shutting down businesses and issuing stay-at-home orders. He also said the country’s rollout of effective and accessible Covid tests was too slow.
“In the longer term, countries have to have dedicated personnel, and so they have to practice how they connect up with the PCR diagnostic industry,” Gates said on Monday.
Gates, who published a book last 12 months called “The best way to Prevent the Next Pandemic,” said he expects federal governments the world over to make those responses much easier before the following global viral outbreak. Poor Covid responses inspired government spending on future pandemic preparedness in multiple countries, he observed.
Some Covid responses have been higher than others, Gates argued. He cited Australia “and about 7 other countries,” which he didn’t publicly name, noting that Australia’s rate of Covid deaths per capita remains to be among the many lowest on this planet. It’s currently just 21% of the U.S.’s coronavirus death rate, in keeping with Johns Hopkins University’s data.
The countries that drew Gates’s praise “did population-scale diagnostics early on, and had quarantine policies related to that [which] kept the extent of infection low,” he explained. Gates also applauded Australia’s pandemic response last 12 months, noting that the country quickly closed its international borders in March 2020.
The U.S. received high marks from Gates in a single category: spending greater than $30 billion to fund the research and development for coronavirus vaccines. The U.S. gave that cash to corporations in multiple countries, leading to multiple effective Covid vaccines.
Gates’s advocacy for strong pandemic preparation is not latest. In a 2015 TED Talk, he warned that an infectious virus could pose greater risk to the world’s population than nuclear war.
Yet on Monday, he said he wasn’t entirely surprised by the world’s relatively sluggish response to Covid’s spread: “Pandemics come along so rarely that it is easy to be incompetent.”
Pandemic preparedness budgets within the U.S. were repeatedly cut in the last decade leading as much as 2020. In Gates’s ideal scenario, that will not occur again within the U.S. or anywhere else.
Each five years, governments should run a “really comprehensive exercise at each country and regional levels” with groups just like the World Health Organization to arrange for potential quarantining and diagnostics measures, Gates said.
“Epidemics, hopefully it will get us to take them seriously, at the least for the following 20 or 30 years,” he added.
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