The US response to the coronavirus pandemic is “embarrassing” compared to other countries, Microsoft founder Bill Gates told CNN on Thursday, adding that the outlook was “more bleak” than he would have expected.
The philanthropist and founder of Microsoft predicted that a virus would develop into a pandemic five years ago in a TED talk in 2015. In response to the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, Gates has said his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was giving “total attention” to funding efforts to defeat the pandemic.
However, Gates criticized the response of his native country, calling out the lack of tracing and the weakness of regulations in the US.
“Because our behavior and contact tracing isn’t working well we continue to have very large case spread, and it is embarrassing versus say Europe or other countries,” Gates said during his interview with CNN.
Throughout the interview, Gates highlighted that the tepid response in the US to measures aimed to combat the coronavirus, such as mask wearing, is one reason why the country has the most number of cases in the world.
“The United States has had a tough time. We are not as tough on contact tracing or enforcing quarantine and compliance with mask wearing is far less than particularly the countries in Asia,” he said.
“The global picture and the US picture are both more bleak than I would have expected,” he added.
Rates of infection have fallen across the world as measures put in place to contain the coronavirus have taken effect, but Gates also warned that part of this success is likely due to the effect that hotter temperature is having on the virus, and that health authorities and citizens need to remain vigilant.
“The health experts and others like myself are saying, ‘Hey let’s not lose sight of this, even though the weather is helping us a bit’ … We know now we are benefiting from the summer and so force of infection will get worse in the fall,” he said.
Companies and health authorities including the Gates Foundation around the world are currently in a global race to develop a vaccine. However, the Microsoft founder has been targeted previously by conspiracy theories positing that he would use the pandemic as an opportunity to create a vaccine that contains a microchip capable of tracking the entire population.
The theory has been wildly debunked, but has gained traction.
“Vaccines are often subject to these rumors, and these rumors are just so hard to get rid of, even the thing from the past where they said it was associated with autism, while trial after trial showed that’s absolutely not the case,” he concluded.
Earlier in June, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found 44 percent of Republicans believed the conspiracy theory.
Only 26 percent of Republicans accurately identified the story as false, while 19 percent of Democrats also believed the theory.
At the time, Gates said that the theory is “stupid,” but warned that it does have potentially devastating results, and could actively prevent the implementation of critical measures to redue the spread of the virus.