Following this morning's rant from the COVID-positive (and triple-vaxxed) Jim Cramer, and Tuesday afternoon's public address from President Joe Biden begging unvaccinated Americans to please just go and get their jabs already, Microsoft billionaire (and self-appointed unofficial global vaccination czar) Bill Gates has just issued a few tweets changing his projections for how long the pandemic might actually last.
After saying a few months ago that he finally expected the 'acute phase' of the pandemic to end next year, Gates has apparently once again changed his mind about the pandemic's longevity, proving once again that armchair experts (and even many of the real scientists) see their expectations shift with whatever the current case count is.
According to Gates, just when the world was finally feeling that life might soon return to normal, the surge in new cases over the past month (which has been partly driven by the rise of the omicron variant, which is now responsible for most new cases in the US, per the CDC) means the world might actually be entering "the worst part of the pandemic" instead.
"Omicron will hit home for all of us," Gates said (despite claims that it actually causes more mild cases than the delta strain), adding that "close friends of mine now have it" and that he had cancelled his holiday plans and urged others to do the same because of it.
Just when it seemed like life would return to normal, we could be entering the worst part of the pandemic. Omicron will hit home for all of us. Close friends of mine now have it, and I’ve canceled most of my holiday plans.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
As if this one FUD bomb wasn't big enough, Gates added that omicron was spreading "faster than any virus in history" and that it "will soon be in every country in the world."
Omicron is spreading faster than any virus in history. It will soon be in every country in the world.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
Here's the big twist: According to Gates, "the big unknown" is how sick omicron makes people. And "we need to take it seriously" because "even if it's only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen...because it's so infectious."
The big unknown is how sick omicron makes you. We need to take it seriously until we know more about it. Even if it’s only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it’s so infectious.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
In the meantime, we all have to look out for each other, especially the most vulnerable, whether they live down the street or in another country. That means wearing masks, avoiding big indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated. Getting a booster gives the best protection.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
Despite all the breakthrough cases and revisions about the efficacy numbers, the vaccines are still working " well" in Gates's estimation.
There will be more breakthrough cases in people who are vx’d, which sounds concerning but is purely a factor of how many people are vx’d and how fast this variant is spreading. Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying & are doing that well.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
Fortunately, there's some "good news" at the end of the tunnel. Omicron appears to be moving so quickly, it should be over within three months.
If there’s good news here, it’s that omicron moves so quickly that once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than 3 months. Those few months could be bad, but I still believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
I know it’s frustrating to go into another holiday season with COVID looming over us. But it won’t be like this forever. Someday the pandemic will end, and the better we look after each other, the sooner that time will come.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 21, 2021
Which actually sounds great, Bill. Except it sounds a little like "two weeks to stop the spread" to us.
Gates' view of the nest phase wedges with JPMorgan's Marki Kolanovic view that Omicron could be the "end of the pandemic."
While it is likely that Omicron is more transmissible, early reports suggest it may also be less deadly – which would fit into the pattern of virus evolution observed historically. Should these trends be confirmed in the coming weeks, could the Omicron variant ultimately prove to be a positive for risk markets, in the sense that it could accelerate the end of the pandemic?
If a less severe and more transmissible virus quickly crowds out more severe variants, could the Omicron variant be a catalyst to transform a deadly pandemic into something more similar to seasonal flu? That development would fit with historical patterns (duration and number of waves) of previous respiratory virus pandemics, especially given the broad availability of vaccines and new therapeutics that are expected to work on all known variants (Pfizer, Merck).
And also, just in case you were wondering: Bill Gates will be spending his first post-divorce Christmas alone.