After initially turning the "FUD" dial up to '11' in response to the initial reports and data about the omicron variant, Microsoft founder and billionaire wannabe global vaccine czar Bill Gates has apparently had a change of heart.
Gates on Tuesday joined Professor Devi Sridhar, a professor and chair of global health policy at the University of Edinburgh, for a Twitter discussion about the COVID pandemic.
Following a few questions about vaccines where Gates seems to actually acknowledge their shortcomings for once, Gates tells Dr. Sridhar that after an omicron wave has subsided, the rest of the year should see far fewer cases and deaths, leaving COVID to retreat to the intensity of a bad flu.
"Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu."
A more infectious variant is "not likely," according to Gates, although he acknowledges that the world has been "surprised a lot" before, and that the WHO is already hard at work trying to prepare for the "next" pandemic.
Final question- what everyone wants to know -> how and when will the pandemic be over? Does omicron show that we can ‘live with COVID’? Or are other dangerous variants around the corner in 2022?— Prof. Devi Sridhar 🌈 (@devisridhar) January 11, 2022
As countries experience their Omicron wave health systems will be challenged. Most of the severe cases will be unvaccinated people. Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
.@DrTedros has started the conversation about how we avoid the next pandemic which is important. I appreciate your work on this. We can do a lot better next time!!#— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Circling back to the beginning of the conversation, Dr. Sridhar asks Gates what would make the "biggest difference" to ending the COVID pandemic? To our surprise, Gates acknowledged that better vaccines would make the biggest difference.
To kick-off the conversation with @BillGates, what scientific or tech breakthrough would make the biggest difference now to ending the COVID pandemic?— Prof. Devi Sridhar 🌈 (@devisridhar) January 11, 2022
The vaccines we have are missing two "key things": 1) they don't actually do much to prevent the spread of the virus, and 2) their duration is "limited".
The vaccines we have prevent severe disease and death very well but they are missing two key things.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
First they still allow infections ("breakthrough") and the duration appears to be limited.
We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration.#
Of course, this isn't the first time that Gates has expressed constructive criticism about his beloved vaccines.
The conversation takes an almost humorous turn when the doctor asks Gates about the "obstacles" to "global vaccination access?".
Agree 100%- next gen vaccines with sterilising immunity. 2nd question: What are the current challenges in reaching global vaccination access? What are the obstacles?— Prof. Devi Sridhar 🌈 (@devisridhar) January 11, 2022
Gates offers his usual boilerplate reply. But we would like to remind readers - before they simply and uncritically swallow this - that the biggest obstacle to global vaccine access just might be Bill Gates himself, since the Microsoft billionaire became perhaps the biggest opponent of the "open vaccine" movement which demanded that companies like Pfizer and Moderna make their vaccine creations open source for all countries to try and produce, instead of coveting the recipes and charging top dollar, ensuring the developing world would be last in line, only after the developed west has gotten its fill of boosters.
During 2021 the supply of vaccines was limited and they mostly went to wealthy countries. Now we have a lot of supply overall and the problems are logistics and demand. The health systems in developing countries are a limiting factor.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
mRna vaccines still can't meet all the demand so figuring out who gets what is complicated.#— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
And when the good doctor brings up the question of vaccine "access", Gates started talking out of both sides of his mouth.
There's been a lot of discussion on responsibility of pharma companies like Pfizer/Moderna for access. What is the role of these companies in ensuring pricing and availability esp in low and middle income contexts?— Prof. Devi Sridhar 🌈 (@devisridhar) January 11, 2022
When we have adequate supply then tiered pricing is used where the rich countries pay a lot more than middle income and low income pay the least which is funded by @gavi. When supply is limited rich countries have to not outbid the others so governments are key to this. #— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Suddenly, deep in the twitter thread, Gates touched a nerve - especially considering what's going on in Australia regarding the saga of unvaccinated tennis pro Novak Djokovic. Asked what countries could have done to be better prepared, Gates appeared to endorse the "COVID zero" strategies embraced by Australia and China.
A few countries like Australia moved fast to diagnose cases at scale and isolate people who were infected. They were able to limit deaths dramatically. Once the numbers get large in a country it is too late. So the first few months made a lot of difference.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Also some countries did a better job of reducing mobility, using masks and protecting the elderly.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
We weren't prepared - no practice in advance.#
Do you think the world will come together to get ready for the next one? I hope so but I am not sure.#— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Finally, an interview with Gates is never complete without a discussion of the role that online "misinformation" has played during the pandemic. Apparently, Gates is still dumbfounded by the notion that people think he's conspiring to microchip them via the vaccines.
One major problem has been online misinformation on Facebook & other platforms around vaccines, masks and other interventions- how do we deal with this challenge? When expertise is neglected and conspiracy theories are spread as if they are truth?— Prof. Devi Sridhar 🌈 (@devisridhar) January 11, 2022
Trusted authorities like @WHO and @CDCgov need more resources to see the pandemic early (surveillance) and to communicate better. Social media got behind on trying to get factual information out - there will be a lot of debate about how to do better on that...— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation. I didn't expect that. Some of it like me putting chips in arms doesn't make sense to me - why would I want to do that?#— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 11, 2022
Spoken like somebody who's conspiring to microchip the population.