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Microsoft founder Bill Gates thinks freedom-loving Americans will resist mask-wearing mandates regardless of who is in the Oval Office.
The billionaire software developer told The Economist in a new interview that the belief in “individual freedom” drives Americans and is partly the reason the U.S. was slow in its initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe in freedom, individual freedom. We optimize for individual rights,” Gates said when asked about the debate in the U.S. over wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Democrats are quick to blame President Donald Trump and his administration for all of the problems with handling the virus outbreak, as they drummed the point ad nauseam in Monday night’s launch of the Democratic National Convention. But Gates believes that even if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden scored a victory in November, it wouldn’t change the aversion to masks many Americans have.
“I don’t think a change in administrations will get people to wear masks,” he told The Economist.”It’s hard to see how we build that trust network and improved behavior. It’ll mostly be incremental.”
While he was critical of slow initial testing efforts in the U.S., Gates did give credit for the funding for research and development which he described as a “huge favor” for the rest of the world.
“We do need to finance these constructs so that we get them out globally because that’s the only way the epidemic ends. We all need to spend billions to get the vaccine out to save the trillions,” he told Zanny Minton Beddoes, the Economist’s editor-in-chief who asked why this wasn’t already happening.
“All the countries but the U.S. do need to think about why weren’t they able to orchestrate early high-risk money,” he replied.
(Source: The Economist/YouTube)
“Thank goodness BARDA, with all its imperfections, was there to move things ahead,” he said of American research and development, referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
The Trump administration approved $6.5 billion for “countermeasure development” through BARDA as well as funding for other COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Operation Warp Speed
“This was a huge favor that was done for the entire world and it’s done so we can globally take on the challenge,” Gates added, expressing his hope that the U.S. will take the lead in getting vaccines produced and distributed,
The tech mogul, who has made significant investments in medicine and vaccine development, noted that only 30%-60% of the population actually needs to be vaccinated to slow, and eventually, stop the “exponential spread” of the pandemic.
“That would be a very hopeful thing,” he said. “Then you could imagine that by late 2021, you would have enough doses that you’re almost done with just a little bit of spillover into 2022.”
Gates added that “the worst is still ahead” in dealing with the pandemic, noting that globally, many countries will continue to suffer from the “inflationary pressures” brought about.
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