In a conversation on Twitter, Bill Gates shared his opinions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and what steps we could take to make it more manageable this year. CNET reported.
Apart from building Microsoft from the ground up, Bill Gates is popularly known for accurately warning the world about an imminent pandemic. Although Gates probably would have preferred to be wrong about this, he has tried to make the situation better by supporting the production and distribution of vaccines around the world. Before the year turned and as COVID cases began surging, Gates called Omicron the worst part of the pandemic.
Speaking to Professor Devi Sridhar, a notable global public health expert, Gates reiterated his belief that the pandemic could be over in 2022 if we took the right measures. The first among those measures is vaccines that not only reduce disease severity but also stop the infection in its tracks.
The vaccines we have prevent severe disease and death very well but they are missing two key things.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
First they still allow infections ("breakthrough") and the duration appears to be limited.
We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration.#
Gates also praised responses from certain countries such as Australia who were quick to scale up their testing and isolate infected individuals while also pointing out the fact that despite his warnings, the world wasn't ready for the pandemic.
Also some countries did a better job of reducing mobility, using masks and protecting the elderly.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
We weren't prepared - no practice in advance.#
Gates also lamented the fact that even large organizations like the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lack resources to spot an incoming pandemic and communicate it out to the world.
Trusted authorities like @WHO and @CDCgov need more resources to see the pandemic early (surveillance) and to communicate better. Social media got behind on trying to get factual information out - there will be a lot of debate about how to do better on that...— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Regarding the major question that's on everyone's mind, Gates saw a sliver of hope in rising infections due to the Omicron variant for an estimation about the pandemic's ending.
As countries experience their Omicron wave health systems will be challenged. Most of the severe cases will be unvaccinated people. Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Gates is hopeful that a variant more transmissible than Omicron is unlikely and current infections will create immunity for the next year, after which we may have to take yearly shots for COVID-19 for some time, he added in the Twitter thread. Pfizer's CEO had recently confirmed that its Omicron-specific vaccine would be ready by March while countries had booked shots for Fall 2022 with Moderna.
Amid rising cases due to the Omicron variant, a recent WHO report estimated that 50 percent of the European population would likely be infected by COVID in the next two months.