Bill Gates is alarmed at the volume of conspiracy theories around the coronavirus vaccination, but is confident that the world will largely return to normal by the end of 2021.
Delivering the keynote interview at the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers on Tuesday, Gates said, “I’m surprised at all the conspiracy theories — people who think the vaccine is not meant to save lives. That’s all wrong, but the scale of it is a bit scary in terms of, will that prevent people from being willing to take the vaccine, and why are they looking for these simple explanations?”
The stated goal of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s vaccine development and surveillance division is to advance public goods for global health through technological innovation by accelerating the development and commercialization of novel vaccines and the sustainable manufacture of existing vaccines.
“Even [U.S. coronavirus expert] Dr. Fauci or myself, our basic motivation for being involved in this work has been questioned; maybe there’s something malign about that,” Gates said. “I’m hopeful that the digital tools can get the truth out, as well as it’s gotten these conspiracy theories out.”
“It’s harder because it’s not as interesting to click on the truth as it is this oversimplified explanation of why something bad has happened in the world,” the Microsoft founder added.
Elsewhere, Gates talked up one of the few benefits of the pandemic, saying that there has been a great acceleration in innovation on the digital and health fronts.
After a peak period of infections in the Northern Hemisphere over the next few months, said Gates, the various vaccines that are being approved will start to make a difference.
“By the spring of 2021, we should be driving the numbers down and able to see that, as tragic as this was, it won’t last forever,” Gates said. “I’m hopeful that by late 2021 or in 2022, we can get largely back to normal.”
Gates was in conversation with Dr. Mercy Korir, editor of health and science at Kenya’s Standard media group.