Bill Gates said that the next five months look ‘pretty grim’ for the United States unless COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths stop surging — as he vowed to immediately take a vaccine once it’s available to him.
In NBC’s Today, Gates — whose foundation has contributed $450 million to the global coronavirus response — said that things could likely return to normal by the spring if Americans doubled down on public health measures now.
“It’s a paradoxical situation because things are getting worse right now. The next four to five months looks pretty grim unless we can double down on our behaviors,” Gates said.
Gates was referring to a COVID-19 vaccine and other treatments including antibody drugs now being used. However, he noted that the most impactful thing people can do now to prevent the surge from getting any worse was to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“Projections show that of the several hundred thousand lives that are projected to be lost in these months ahead, 50,000 of those would be saved if we had high mask compliance,” Gates said.
Regarding the development of the vaccine, Gates said it was likely that all candidates would succeed given the efficacy rates from those so far, including Moderna and Pfizer.
“It looks like almost all the vaccines are going to succeed. It is great science, great industrial manufacturing, great cooperation, even across countries,” Gates explained. “So, you know, this is a war, we’re all in it together. Whatever my place in line rightly is, I will immediately step up and take the vaccine.”
However, Gates did express some concern about the rollout of a vaccine because the states are being tasked with administering it.
“The federal government has abdicated some of its responsibilities in a public health crisis. The federal government has way more resources than the states,” he said. “Overall I think we will get it all out.”
Yesterday, health officials revealed that Americans will likely be given a COVID-19 vaccine card to keep track of the shots once they start to be administered.
Dr. Kelly Moore, who is the associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition, said in a CNN report that vaccination cards would be the easiest way to track it.
“Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due,” Moore said. “Let’s do the simple, easy thing first. Everyone’s going to get that.”
The Department of Defense released the first images of what a vaccination kit would look like once it’s rolled out.
Just this week, the chief adviser for the US government’s Operation Warp Speed program said that healthcare workers and others recommended for the first inoculations could start getting shots within 24 hours after the vaccine receives authorization from the FDA.
Health officials ran a drill last month simulating shipments of vaccine to ensure that all regulatory approvals were in place to allow for immediate deliveries to begin in the coming weeks.
The Transportation Department said this week that it has made preparations to enable the ‘immediate mass shipment’ of COVID-19 vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.
The department is preparing to ensure deliveries of vaccine doses for about 40 million residents through January, or about 20 million a month.