Now in a new Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ Session, the 64-year-old is answering your biggest questions. And while Gates is no medical expert, his financial and philanthropic experience makes him a handy candidate to tackle the biggest issues the world will face.
1. How Long Will A Vaccine Take?
“This is a great question. There are over 6 different efforts going on to make a vaccine. Some use a new approach called RNA which is unproven. We will have to build lots of manufacturing for the different approaches knowing that some of them will not work. We will need literally billions of vaccines to protect the world. Vaccines require testing to make sure they are safe and effective. Some vaccines like the flu don’t for the elderly.
“The first vaccines we get will go to health care workers and critical workers. This could happen before 18 months if everything goes well but we and Fauci and others are being careful not to promise this when we are not sure. The work is going at full speed.”
2. What Worries You The Most And What Gives You The Most Hope?
“The current phase has a lot of the cases in rich countries. With the right actions including the testing and social distancing (which I call “shut down”) within 2-3 months the rich countries should have avoided high levels of infection. I worry about all the economic damage but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries and whose hospital capacity is much lower.”
3. What Percentage Of The World’s Population Will Be Affected?
“This will vary a lot by country. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore acted quickly and will have very few cases. Even China will stay at a low level of their population (less than .01%) so far. Thailand is another exemplar. Unfortunately in poorer countries doing social distancing is much harder. People live in close proximity and need to work to get their food so there could be countries where the virus will spread broadly.”
4. How Can Businesses Adapt To Maintain Our Economy While Social Distancing?
“The question of which businesses should keep going is tricky. Certainly food supply and the health system. We still need water, electricity and the internet. Supply chains for critical things need to be maintained. Countries are still figuring out what to keep running.
“Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”
5. How Long Will This Go On For?
“This will vary a lot by country. China is seeing very few cases now because their testing and “shut down” was very effective. If a country does a good job with testing and “shut down” then within 6-10 weeks they should see very few cases and be able to open back up.”