Bill Gates – the software developer – has been making the media rounds the past two weeks to promote his new book about preventing a new pandemic. In interviews this week, Gates delivered his opinions on a myriad of COVID-related topics – including the coronavirus lab-leak theory, individual liberties during a pandemic, Australia's quarantine camps, issues with COVID-19 vaccines, and the possibility of climate change causing disease outbreaks.
On Tuesday, Gates was interviewed by CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria at an event organized by 92nd Street Y – a self-described "cultural and community center where people all over the world connect through culture, arts, entertainment, and conversation."
Gates proclaimed, "The vaccines are imperfect and in two very important ways."
"One is they don't block infection," he said. "We were hoping that the vaccine would create enough antibodies in your upper respiratory tract, including your nose and throat, that vaccinated people wouldn't get infected."
"Well, once Omicron comes along, the vaccine is not reducing transmission, hardly at all, particularly about three or four months after you take the vaccine," Gates noted.
"The other thing is duration," he added. "You know, we're seeing through a variety of the data, Israel data, U.K. data, that particularly if you're in your 70s, within four or five months of taking the vaccine, that protection really is going down. Weirdly for young people, that protection does not seem to go down and we've seen this with previous vaccines."
"The mRNA vaccines are a miracle, but they weren't perfect," he said. "And so next time, people will have much better vaccines and, and better therapeutics as well."
Gates stated, "We're going to create some new flu vaccines that that are much better."
Gates noted that early in the pandemic, "We didn't really understand the fatality rate, you know, we didn't understand that it's a fairly low fatality rate and that it's a disease mainly the elderly, kind of like flu is, although a bit different than that."
"So that was pretty scary period, where the world didn't go on alert, including the United States, nearly as fast as it needed to," Gates told Zakaria.
Zakaria asked Gates, "Should we accept some restrictions on our liberties?"
Gates responded, "Absolutely. But you know, the U.S., that's not our greatest strength – that is making, in some cases, sacrifice for the collective."
He opined that the U.S. made "incredible sacrifice for the collective goal" during World War II, but Gates believes Americans haven't been willing to make sacrifices since the 9/11 terror attacks.
"We're a society of individual rights, and there's a lot to be said for that," he added. "So we're not optimized for pandemics."
Speaking of civil liberties, Gates praised Australia's draconian COVID-19 response – which included quarantine camps.
Gates said there "weren't many countries" that handled that COVID-19 pandemic well during a Tuesday interview on PBS' "Amanpour and Company."
"But a few responded very quickly to scale up the level of diagnostics, and then they had quarantine policies that were well adhered to," Gates stated. "So Australia stands out, and their death rate is about 10% of other rich countries. So pretty dramatic benefit."
Last week, Gates sounded the alarm about the possibility of a new, more deadly COVID-19 variant and called for the formation of a global disease outbreak task force that would be controlled by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Gates expounded on the dangers of a new variant in the interview with Zakaria.
"There could be more variants come that would be immune-escaping because their shape of their spike protein would be a little different," he claimed. "And sadly, they could even have a higher fatality rate. You know, I read the chance of that is, you know, maybe 5% to 10%."
Gates advised people they "need to keep boosting." He said "the public should be ready" for mask mandates to be reinstated and "not view it as a deep infringement."
Zakaria asked Gates about the warning he made at the 2017 Munich Security Conference in Germany about a "fast-moving airborne pathogen" that "could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year," which he said could happen in 10-15 years.
"I was willing to take risk and go out on a limb, because you know, the modern world is just so susceptible to this human-to-human transmissible respiratory virus," Gates said in the nearly hour-long interview.
"You know, we're invading more area, you know, we're getting into, you know, where bats are having, getting squeezed," he continued. "HIV came through chimpanzees, Ebola came from bats."
Gates also highlighted his prediction that the world was "not ready for the next epidemic" – which he declared during a 2015 TED Talk.
Gates claimed that climate change increases the risks of a pandemic.
"In these changing ecosystems, have animals seeking new areas to live in, because it gets too hot in the areas they're in, and so they tend to head away from the equator," Gates suggested. "And so as they go into those new habitats, they run into farms."
Gates asserted that there are "too many humans" for all those other animals because humans are "hogging the habitat."
The Microsoft founder warned that "bushmeat markets" and "wet markets" are possible disease outbreak origins because humans are "working in such close proximity" to pigs. He added, "Flu almost always comes out of China because that's where the pigs are."
During a Tuesday appearance on "The Daily Show," Gates claimed that climate change would cause more diseases and dismissed the COVID-19 origin possibility of a lab leak.
"Where we should be careful about lab safety," Gates said. "It's quite clear in this case that it came across through animals."
"Almost all our diseases like HIV crossed over from chimpanzees and Africa. Quite some time ago, Ebola came from bats. This also, with one step in between, came from bats. So it's going to keep happening, particularly with climate change, where we're invading a lot of habitats."
You can watch the entire Bill Gates interview with Fareed Zakaria below.
Bill Gates with Fareed Zakaria: How to Prevent the Next Pandemic www.youtube.com