The issue of whether or not to wear masks remains at the center of hot debate, and Bill Gates is weighing in. The debate rages on even though many parts of the country have mask mandates in place. The mandates aren’t doing a good job at getting people to wear masks as many of those opposed allow the mask to hang down on their face and not cover their nose.
Bill Gates says freedom is why people won't wear masks
In an interview with The Economist, part of which was also picked up by Fox News, Bill Gates said people aren't wearing masks because they believe in freedom. He was asked about how politicized the debate over wearing masks has become.
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He said the U.S. failed in its response to the coronavirus because "we believe in freedom, individual freedom." Bill Gates also said we "optimize for individual rights," which is making it difficult to convince people to wear masks and turning the issue into a political one.
The billionaire philanthropist doesn't believe people will start wearing masks if Joe Biden wins the presidency in November. He said it's difficult to see how it will be possible to improve behavior and that it will "mostly be incremental."
Bill Gates: response is more than just masks
He added that the U.S. was not prepared for COVID-19 from the first moment it arrived in the country, echoing comments he made when he gave the U.S. response an F. Testing was slow to pick up, and he said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's test added to that first failure.
Gates again praised the nation's response to the need for funding for research and development on vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus, adding that other countries could use some improvements. He said other countries should face questions about why they "weren't able to orchestrate early high-risk money."
The CARES Act and Operation Warp Speed allocated sizable amounts of funds for research into COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Trump administration also approved $6.5 billion through the Biomedical Research and Development Authority and another $3 billion for research through the National Institutes of Health.
Pandemic will be done by end of next year
Gates also told The Economist that millions of people will die before the pandemic is over. However, he doesn't believe the virus is what will cause most of those deaths. Instead, he believes additional strain on healthcare systems and economies that were already struggling will be to blame for those deaths.
He also predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would be done by the end of next year because a vaccine that is reasonably effective will be in mass production by then. He also believes that by the end of 2021, a large enough percentage of the world's population will be immunized to COVID-19, also serving to put a stop to it.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $350 million toward the fight against the coronavirus, but Gates said everyone must "spend billions to get the vaccine out to save the trillions that the economic damage is doing."