By the end of the year, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates expects the coronavirus death rate to come down dramatically. However, in the near term, he warns that the U.S. could return to its peak death rate of 2,000 deaths per day.
Bill Gates on the coronavirus death date
The U.S. has now seen 150,000 people die of COVID-19 as the death rate continued to rise throughout July. In an interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer, Bill Gates warned that the coronavirus death rate could get much worse in the coming months.
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He predicted that the daily death toll in the fall could rise to levels not seen in the U.S. since the height of the pandemic. He said the peak death rate was "well over 2,000 a day." As fall arrives and people spend more time indoors, Bill Gates expects the coronavirus death rate to go back up to 2,000 per day if officials have reduced the number of infections before then.
His comment to Yahoo Finance on the coronavirus death rate stands in stark contrast to what he told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin earlier this week. Bill Gates believes there is a good chance the coronavirus death rate will fall significantly by the end of the year.
The reason for his optimism about the death rate is because of some new therapies that are being developed. The antiviral drug remdesivir must be given via an IV, but Gates said researchers are working on two other antiviral treatments that can be given orally.
He said remdesivir has been shown to reduce the death risk for COVID-19 patients who have severe symptoms. He hopes that the two new antiviral medications will serve to reduce the risk of death from the virus even more.
Gates added that monoclonal antibodies are the "most promising class" of treatments for the coronavirus. He also said Eli Lilly, Regeneron and AstraZeneca are "doing some pretty strong work" on treatments.
Work on COVID-19 vaccines continues
Gates has also talked a lot about vaccines to prevent COVID-19. He told Yahoo Finance that next year, they "should be able to manufacture a lot of vaccines." He expects the vaccine to require two doses. He estimates that to immunize 80% of the global population against COVID-19, they will need 10 billion doses of the vaccine.
"The only solution to this constrained supply is to have massive manufacturing capability," he told Serwer. "So what we're looking at is no matter who invents the vaccine… where are there other factories around the world that could be brought up to speed."
He also said that the only positive thing that's come out of the pandemic is the speed of innovation and the way the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is "working with the private sector to create therapeutics and vaccines." He said the work is moving at "record speed."