Bill Gates: Fall will be difficult if people don’t take coronavirus seriously

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says the U.S. isn’t taking the coronavirus “seriously,” which will cause even more problems when fall arrives. Apparently, he expects the U.S. economy to remain shut down indefinitely because he said the U.S. “opened up while infection rates were still going up.”

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Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

That's why he thinks the nation isn't taking COVID-19 seriously. Of course, billionaires don't have to worry about working or paying their bills, so perhaps it's understandable why Gates would think people don't need to work.

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Bill Gates warns about coronavirus in the fall

Bill Gates made the comments about the coronavirus and the fall on an episode of Influencers with Andy Serwer on Yahoo Finance. He said the summer's warmer temperatures are serving to hold COVID-19 back a bit, although the number of infections continues to rise.

"The summer is helpful," Gates said. "High temperature reduces force of infection, people spend more time outdoors."

However, when the fall arrives, it will bring cooler temperatures, which Bill Gates said will be more conducive for the spread of the coronavirus. The Microsoft co-founder has been very outspoken about COVID-19 and the inadequacies he sees in testing and preventing its spread.

Gates believes that unless researchers develop new treatments for COVID-19 and more people take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, the fall could be especially difficult in the fight. Bill Gates added that if more people don't start wearing masks, call could be "very tough" in the fight against the coronavirus.

He also said that parts of the country that have been mostly spared from the threat of COVID-19 so far will be the most vulnerable when fall arrives.

"Part of the irony is that it's the communities that haven't had it badly who are going to be most at risk in the fall," he said.

COVID-19 death rate could drop substantially

In another interview aired on CNBC's Squawk Box, Gates also said there could be a "substantial" decline in the COVID-19 death rate by the end of this year. He added that having effective treatments to reduce the death rate won't be enough to return the world to a sense of normalcy.

Instead, he believes a vaccine will be needed before everything can get back to normal. He said the benefits of effective treatments will be see more quickly than the protective benefit from a vaccine or herd immunity.

Gates added that the antiviral drug remdesivir, which is given intravenously, has been shown to decrease the risk of death for coronavirus patients with severe symptoms by 62% compared to standard care alone. He also said two other antivirals that can be administered orally instead of via an IV are now being studied.

Gates told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin that monoclonal antibodies seem to be the most promising class of treatments for the coronavirus. He added that Eli Lilly, Regeneron and AstraZeneca are "doing some pretty strong work" on treatments for the virus.

Although having effective treatments will help, he believes that it is necessary to "block transmission" and "have long periods of time without anybody going in the hospital" before the world will return to a sense of normalcy. To do that, a vaccine will be required.

Vaccine makers are in a race to get to the finish line first and win regulatory approval for their COVID-19 vaccine. Hundreds of vaccine candidates are in the works, and several companies have entered late-stage human trials. Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this week that they have just begun their late-stage human trial.

Moderna also said earlier this week that the government gave it $472 million more in funds to keep working on its vaccine. Gates said he is "enthused about all the vaccines that the U.S. has funded."