Bill Gates on Coronavirus: The US did not act fast enough to avoid a shutdown

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Microsoft co-founder and longtime philanthropist Bill Gates in a recent TED Connects series interview about the Coronavirus said he believes that we need an “extreme shutdown so that in six to 10 weeks, if things go well, then you can start opening back up.”

“Our goal here is to get to the point where a very small percentage of the population is infected,” Gates added, and to do that, you need a combination of testing and isolation.

Had the US acted sooner, things could have been very different.

“If you act when you have hundreds of cases, you may be able to contain it by doing great testing and great contact tracing and restricting foreigners coming in without as much damage to your economy. The US has passed this opportunity to control without shutdown so that the worst case of what was happening in Wuhan in the beginning or in Northern Italy, you know, the last few weeks, that we avoid that but we did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown.”

One thing that we may have playing in our favor, at least in the northern hemisphere, is seasonality.

“Respiratory viruses, to some degree, they all are seasonal. We don’t know how seasonal this one is but there’s a reasonable chance that the force of infection will be going down,” Gates said.

The philanthropist also notes that while Covid-19 is more infectious than MERS or SARS, it isn’t as deadly.

What’s especially chilling is the fact that nearly five years ago, Gates stood on stage at a TED Talk event and predicted that we would not be ready for the next global outbreak. Low and behold, here we are, and he was right.

Masthead credit: Frederic Legrand

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TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then people would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
 

amstech

IT Overlord
Even the ruthless capitalist who's trying to buy his way into heaven admits it.
Bill Gates is one of the best examples of why capitalism is the best practice for commerce. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. People should be able to make as much money as they want, and its their damn money...not mine, not everybody's to share, THEIR DAMN MONEY.

Gates has invested more into charities and the overall growth and positive evolution of human beings as a whole then most billionaires. I admire him as he built the foundation for my career, as I work in IT, and his premise to use his earnings to help the world can only be viewed negatively by those who have been swindled into thinking capitalism is something its not. Free enterprise is what makes other people leave thier countries to come here.
The word of the day folks here is 'Liberty'.
And if I hear one damn word about 'corrupt corporations buying themselves into tax fraud and loops' as if it has any correlation to any party, I am going to shoot you in the face with my strongest nerf gun.
 

lipe123

TS Evangelist
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then people would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
They didn't keep it a secret, don't spread false us vs them hate.
It was a new virus, how where they supposed to know its not just pneumonia or other illness with the same symptoms?

No one says a complete shut down was the answer, the answer would be your president not saying for 3 weeks long "it's not a big deal" and instead saying its serious.
Telling the public to keep their distance, all the things that is out there now should have been out there 3 weeks ago.
The deliberate downplaying of the severity is the problem.
 

penn919

TS Maniac
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then people would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
With all due respect, sir

A complete shutdown would have been one thing, but as far back as January 22 the president was making statements such as "We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from china", "We pretty much shut it down coming from China", "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA....Stock market starting to look very good to me!", "I think that'a a problem that's going to go away...", "Within a couple days is going to be down to close to zero" "We're going very substantially down, not up." "One day it's like a miracle., it will disappear", "Now it's a hoax".

The conclusion that the US didn't act quick enough is a rather innocuous assessment based on the facts; hardly the "cheap shot from the peanut gallery" as you describe.
 
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redhat

TS Booster
Bill Gates is one of the best examples of why capitalism is the best practice for commerce. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. People should be able to make as much money as they want, and its their damn money...not mine, not everybody's to share, THEIR DAMN MONEY.

Gates has invested more into charities and the overall growth and positive evolution of human beings as a whole then most billionaires. I admire him as he built the foundation for my career, as I work in IT, and his premise to use his earnings to help the world can only be viewed negatively by those who have been swindled into thinking capitalism is something its not. Free enterprise is what makes other people leave thier countries to come here.
The word of the day folks here is 'Liberty'.
And if I hear one damn word about 'corrupt corporations buying themselves into tax fraud and loops' as if it has any correlation to any party, I am going to shoot you in the face with my strongest nerf gun.
"People should be able to make as much money as they want"
what about dirty practice they make, I mean if you look at most billionaire you will see that they have done terrible things
 

toooooot

TS Evangelist
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then people would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
We are all humans, therefore we are born to make mistakes. But it doesnt mean we shouldnt learn our history, and in this case the history of pandemics to address them better.
One thing is obvious, the next time we hear about a new virus, we should act quickly and close the borders with the country of origin or whatever country that keeps their borders open with the country where the virus originated.
Also, there goes another proof China is to be distrusted regarding any business.
 

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
They didn't keep it a secret, don't spread false us vs them hate.
It was a new virus, how where they supposed to know its not just pneumonia or other illness with the same symptoms?

No one says a complete shut down was the answer, the answer would be your president not saying for 3 weeks long "it's not a big deal" and instead saying its serious.
Telling the public to keep their distance, all the things that is out there now should have been out there 3 weeks ago.
The deliberate downplaying of the severity is the problem.
Here's the timeline for China's acknowledgement. From the article:

"This timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post and other sources, shows that China's cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks."

https://www.axios.com/timeline-the-early-days-of-chinas-coronavirus-outbreak-and-cover-up-ee65211a-afb6-4641-97b8-353718a5faab.html
 

gusticles41

TS Evangelist
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then people would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
We had time to observe China and Italy and react appropriately, but chose not to.You're right, the uproar about an "overreaction" would have been overwhelming. But there was zero chance of that happening under Trump. The stock market is literally worth killing to keep up.
 

3volv3d

TS Addict
Bill Gates is one of the best examples of why capitalism is the best practice for commerce. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. People should be able to make as much money as they want, and its their damn money...not mine, not everybody's to share, THEIR DAMN MONEY.

Gates has invested more into charities and the overall growth and positive evolution of human beings as a whole then most billionaires. I admire him as he built the foundation for my career, as I work in IT, and his premise to use his earnings to help the world can only be viewed negatively by those who have been swindled into thinking capitalism is something its not. Free enterprise is what makes other people leave thier countries to come here.
The word of the day folks here is 'Liberty'.
And if I hear one damn word about 'corrupt corporations buying themselves into tax fraud and loops' as if it has any correlation to any party, I am going to shoot you in the face with my strongest nerf gun.
If the rich have all the money. And they get away with not paying taxes. Then it is just the poor who pays to support the infrastructure of society.
Roads, schools, hospitals, public transport.
And this is why the world is failing.
Capitalism is BS.
 

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
With all due respect, sir

A complete shutdown would have been one thing, but as far back as January 22 the president was making statements such as "We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from china", "We pretty much shut it down coming from China", "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA....Stock market starting to look very good to me!", "I think that'a a problem that's going to go away...", "Within a couple days is going to be down to close to zero" "We're going very substantially down, not up." "One day it's like a miracle., it will disappear", "Now it's a hoax".

The conclusion that the US didn't act quick enough is a rather innocuous assessment based on the facts; hardly, the "cheap shot from the peanut gallery" as you describe.
I see you fell for the same taken out of context quotes e-mail chain a lot of Trump haters did. For example:

"We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China." - At the time, there were 500 cases reported in China and the first had just been recorded in the United States.

“We pretty much shut it down coming in from China. It’s going to be fine.” Prior to this comment, the Trump administration suspended entry to the United States of foreign nationals who had recently visited China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Later that same day, the White House asked Congress for $1.25 billion to help fund the government’s response to COVID-19 and stocks plummeted.

And on and on. Nearly every quote you listed was taken out of context, or some critical juncture had happened to generate the quote.

In the end, he could have done what Obama did during the Swine Flu pandemic. He went golfing. In the end, 60.8 million people were infected resulting in 12,469 deaths. Can you imagine what the public outcry would be if Trump went golfing right now?
 

Axil00

TS Rookie
They didn't keep it a secret, don't spread false us vs them hate.
First, if you don't see the irony of the second sentence of your post given everything you said after, you might benefit from rereading.

Second, China absolutely tried to keep the existence of the virus a secret. They arrested the doctor that told them this was happening in wuhan last year.

Then when it was impossible to obfuscate the seriousness of the situation, they told their people the US military had planted the virus in an act of biological warfare.

I don't think Trump has done a perfect job responding to the outbreak, but it crystal clear that if you are looking to blame a particular party for how bad this thing ultimately gets. China is on the top of that list and there is an enormous gap between them and whoever you want to give the silver medal to.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
Who gives a crap what Bill Gates says? He's not an expert. His MS couldn't even get Windows 8 working right, couldn't get their phone going and on and on.
He's just a multi-billionaire, trying to be on the LEFT side, in hopes they don't take his money.
 

PEnnn

TS Guru
And if I hear one damn word about 'corrupt corporations buying themselves into tax fraud and loops' as if it has any correlation to any party, I am going to shoot you in the face with my strongest nerf gun.
They are buying politicians and writing the tax laws, whether you agree or not. If this was not the case, they wouldn't be spending billions in bribery, aka lobbying.

PS: Challenge accepted......meet you at the OK Corral at high noon for the gunfight??
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Bill Gates is one of the best examples of why capitalism is the best practice for commerce. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. People should be able to make as much money as they want, and its their damn money...not mine, not everybody's to share, THEIR DAMN MONEY.
The way I see it the billionaires in America are benefiting from taxpayer dollars spent on infrastructure, schooling, and quality of life among others. The roads that Amazon trucks travel on are taxpayer funded and the schooling their workers receive are taxpayer funded. The utilities delivered to their property are taxpayer funded as is fire and police. The IP they create is protected by the people. What do we get in return for OUR MONEY?!

Nothing. In fact Amazon payed -5% federal tax last year. So no, that's not the billionaires money, a chunk of that is THE PEOPLE'S MONEY they stole through buying politicians.

I see you fell for the same taken out of context quotes e-mail chain a lot of Trump haters did. For example:

"We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China." - At the time, there were 500 cases reported in China and the first had just been recorded in the United States.

“We pretty much shut it down coming in from China. It’s going to be fine.” Prior to this comment, the Trump administration suspended entry to the United States of foreign nationals who had recently visited China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Later that same day, the White House asked Congress for $1.25 billion to help fund the government’s response to COVID-19 and stocks plummeted.

And on and on. Nearly every quote you listed was taken out of context, or some critical juncture had happened to generate the quote.

In the end, he could have done what Obama did during the Swine Flu pandemic. He went golfing. In the end, 60.8 million people were infected resulting in 12,469 deaths. Can you imagine what the public outcry would be if Trump went golfing right now?
Let's compare timelines between the two administrations

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-pandemic-timeline.html
https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-timeline.html

It took Obama 11 days to declare Swine Flu a Public Health emergency.
It took Trump 3 Moths and 14 days to declare Corona Virus a Public Health emergency.

Even if you go from the 1st US Case of corona on Jan 19th, that's still 54 days from the first infection until the emergency was declared on the 13th.


Second Trump has gone golfing multiple times during the Coronavirus pandemic:

https://trumpgolfcount.com/displayoutings
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/08/after-stopping-cdc-his-way-mar-a-lago-trump-heads-golf-course-two-days-row/

So in fact not only DID trump go golfing during the Pandemic, he did it multiple times, his response was significantly slower, and he completely borked the press conference by contradicting experts.

I give anyone permission to share my post and the links. I'm tired of people spreading this "but Obama!" misinformation. Important context was definitely missing. I should also add that going golfing during a pandemic isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself if the administration is doing everything it can. Trump was actively denying and contracting Corona as a threat even as Americans were being infected.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Easier said, than done Bill. People can take cheap shots from the peanut gallery if they want, but this happened so fast, I don't know what more could have been done in the time it was done. What were we going to do? A complete shutdown when only 30 people were originally infected? Then, Bill, you would have been whining about an overreaction.

Didn't help that China kept the whole thing a secret for several weeks.
Fixed that for you!
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Who gives a crap what Bill Gates says? He's not an expert. His MS couldn't even get Windows 8 working right, couldn't get their phone going and on and on.
He's just a multi-billionaire, trying to be on the LEFT side, in hopes they don't take his money.
Both sides have them equally.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
If the rich have all the money. And they get away with not paying taxes. Then it is just the poor who pays to support the infrastructure of society.
Roads, schools, hospitals, public transport.
And this is why the world is failing.
Capitalism is BS.
I think that is now proven by the fact that an organism not visible to the naked human eye has opened gaping economic holes world-wide.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
They didn't keep it a secret, don't spread false us vs them hate.
Yes they have. A Chinese doctor is now dead because they did exactly what you think they did not.
It was a new virus, how where they supposed to know its not just pneumonia or other illness with the same symptoms?
Simple - Science and an abundance of caution.

No one says a complete shut down was the answer, the answer would be your president not saying for 3 weeks long "it's not a big deal" and instead saying its serious.
Telling the public to keep their distance, all the things that is out there now should have been out there 3 weeks ago.
The deliberate downplaying of the severity is the problem.
I agree with you here, but fact clearly proves you are mis-informed with respect to China's earliest reactions.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Bill Gates is one of the best examples of why capitalism is the best practice for commerce. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. People should be able to make as much money as they want, and its their damn money...not mine, not everybody's to share, THEIR DAMN MONEY.

Gates has invested more into charities and the overall growth and positive evolution of human beings as a whole then most billionaires. I admire him as he built the foundation for my career, as I work in IT, and his premise to use his earnings to help the world can only be viewed negatively by those who have been swindled into thinking capitalism is something its not. Free enterprise is what makes other people leave thier countries to come here.
The word of the day folks here is 'Liberty'.
And if I hear one damn word about 'corrupt corporations buying themselves into tax fraud and loops' as if it has any correlation to any party, I am going to shoot you in the face with my strongest nerf gun.
Wow, just wow!

Gates, with his billions earned on the backs of his workers and people like you who tolerate his crap, gets to decide what he supports, and the rest of the creative people in the world be damned.

Gates is an example of what is totally wrong with capitalism. Its a failed experiment that rewards the vain and those that think they are Gods in this world, and has been exposed as such by an organism invisible to the naked human eye.

Many humans think they are so advanced, and right up there among the top of those who think so is none other than Bill Gates. IMO, he's a clueless fck who just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was willing to crunch people under his feet to get to the top. Yet people continue to listen to him because - billions and billions and billions.

I'd rather listen to Thich Nhat Hanh.