Bill Gates says new ways of coronavirus testing and improved treatments will 'mostly be valuable for the next pandemic'

  • Bill Gates says that the tools being developed to treat the coronavirus are coming late in the pandemic, but that they'll be helpful in battling the next global outbreak. 
  • The billionaire Microsoft cofounder discussed the virus in an interview on Ozy's "Carlos Watson Show," which will be published on Wednesday. 
  • "So all these tools are coming right … you know, we wish we'd had them at the beginning," Gates said. "Even new ways of doing testing are going to start to show up, but mostly that will be valuable for the next pandemic." 
  • Gates said that the US will likely have to be "a lot better" next time around, including improving surveillance to detect epidemic's earlier.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates says that the tools being developed to detect and combat the coronavirus are coming late in the pandemic — but they will be helpful in battling the next global disease outbreak. 

Gates discussed the virus during an interview on Ozy's "Carlos Watson Show," which was published on Wednesday. During the interview, Gates described his disappointment in the US coronavirus response and praised how South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries have contained the spread of the pandemic. 

"I would have expected the US to lead the way in terms of getting the testing ramped up and making sure that the numbers never got very large, and I would have expected the CDC to be the voice explaining how things like masks really do make a huge difference," Gates said. 

Gates said that while there are benefits to people changing their behavior, as well as doctors trying new therapeutics — he mentioned monoclonal antibody treatment as one possibility — it's coming late in a pandemic that has already stretched on for nearly 10 months. 

"So all these tools are coming right … you know, we wish we'd had them at the beginning," Gates said. "Even new ways of doing testing are going to start to show up, but mostly that will be valuable for the next pandemic." 

Though pandemics are unpredictable, Gates said, next time this happens, "we may have to be a lot better." 

"We'll have to have better surveillance out there," he said. "If we'd caught, in the month of December, exactly what was going on, it might not have spread to so many countries." 

The billionaire Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist has been outspoken throughout the pandemic, a global threat that he has been warning would come to pass for several years — in a 2017 op-ed for Business Insider, Gates predicted that the next epidemic could be "a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu."

In February, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $100 million to fighting the outbreak, a large portion of which has been directed toward vaccine development. The foundation is also funding an accelerator to speed up development and access to therapeutic treatments for the virus, and has pledged funds to a project that's developing at-home test kits. 

In recent weeks, Gates has launched a podcast with actress Rashida Jones called "Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions," in which they interview experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci. Gates told Watson that Jones is the most interesting person he's gotten to know this year. "We're similar in that we like to study things," Gates said. 

Watch the full episode of the "Carlos Watson Show" on Ozy's YouTube channel »

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