The COVID-19 epidemic is a “huge setback” for the world. But Bill Gates is still optimistic about the future.
As we wrapped up our interview with Gates at the Virtual Geekwire conference on Thursday, we asked Microsoft co-founder and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to give us some reasons for hope. We also asked them to make a call to action – do everything we can to improve the world. Here’s what he said.
Scientific progress: Gates is encouraged by the rapid development of monoclonal antibodies such as vaccines and therapeutics, as well as the collaboration between researchers around the world.
Although “things will go bad” between now and the end of the year, he said the US could cut transmission and be in much better shape by the end of 2021, as many companies developed therapy for just one disease. Have been.
Learning from mistakes: Much can be learned from the hasty missteps on the epidemic, Gates said, citing early slip-ups by the CDC with the trial, and efforts by country leaders to discount the severity of COVID-19 Were told about. Gates said that funding for infectious disease research will also increase now that governments understand how much money is needed to prepare for an epidemic.
Tech Innovation: Beyond preventing another epidemic and coming up with scientific breakthroughs, Gates also spoke about the adoption of telemedicine, along with remote work and learning technologies. “We have probably made 12 years of progress in the last year,” he said.
Climate change: Gates said he encouraged that the epidemic, despite its tremendous impact, has done little to reduce climate activism, especially among young people internationally. “Even though the climate is hard to resolve, widespread awareness is high,” Gates said, compared to the COVID-19 crisis of the climate crisis.
Micro Allowances: Gates enjoys traveling to large conferences. Now he can present them via video conferencing, without ever leaving Seattle.
Staying at home means spending more time with their college-age children, who are learning from afar. “That was a pleasant surprise, at least for the parents,” she quipped.
big picture: According to Gates, in the grand scheme of things, life is getting better. “Slowly but surely, we are recognizing how we treat minorities, how we treat women,” he said. “Slowly but surely, we are reducing cancer deaths and understanding things like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.”
He continued, “Progress will continue.” I am also excited to bring the epidemic closer. ”
A spark for philanthropy and civic engagement: In the end, we asked for their call to action (beyond voting, which of course we are all going to do). What is one thing Gates believes that we should all do to make the world a better place in 5 to 10 years?
His answer: give back. Those who are not affected by the epidemic – such as technical staff – should lend to help, he said. The Gates Foundation has already dedicated $ 350 million towards COVID-19 response efforts and hopes to increase that number. But giving has an impact at any level, he said.
“I want to see philanthropy – not only in dollars, but all the office workers who participate for various reasons to help those who have been less fortunate,” he said.
Gates also wants to see people connect more with their communities – something he learns from his father, Bill Gates Sr., a devoted civic leader who died at just 94 years old.
“We need to cut polarization and help local communities,” Gates said. “The kind of civic engagement he believed in, I think it’s a great model for all of us.”
[The full interview with Gates, and other GeekWire Summit sessions, are available on-demand exclusively to attendees of the virtual event. Learn more and register here.]