Bill Gates thinks the COVID-19 pandemic won't be over until the end of 2021, even for the world's richest countries

Bill Gates thinks the COVID-19 pandemic won't be over until the end of 2021, even for the world's richest countries
Bill GatesSpencer Platt/Getty
  • Bill Gates, the tech billionaire philanthropist who is helping to fund vaccine research for a number of deadly illnesses including COVID-19, is feeling optimistic about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
  • Thanks to this work, he thinks the pandemic should be under control by the end of 2021 for the world's richest nations and by 2022 for the developing world, he told Wired in an interview.
  • While that represents record-speed scientific progress, it may be disappointing to think about living in a pandemic for another year or longer.
  • Meanwhile, Gates warns people not to let their guards down because he thinks COVID-19 could surge again in the fall.

Bill Gates is feeling optimistic that, with all the work being done to develop COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, there is an end to the pandemic in sight.

Unfortunately, that end is still at least a year away, he told Wired's Steven Levy.

"The innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive. And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022," Gates said.

Gates says that he fears that in nations like Russia and China, the pressure to have a vaccine is so high that regulators may be allowing shots to be given to humans before the vaccines are known to be safe and effective.

But the US FDA is not allowing such short-cuts, he said.


"We probably need three or four months — no matter what — of phase 3 data, just to look for side effects," Gates said. "The FDA, to their credit, at least so far, is sticking to requiring proof of efficacy."

Last month, Gates told Business Insider's Hilary Brueck that he's confident that scientists will develop a vaccine that's "very effective and very safe" in part because there are so many vaccines currently in development: more than 160 worldwide. Two of the four speediest trials that are testing vaccines in humans right now are US-based, too: Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Gates also told Brueck if the best vaccines are not shared worldwide, that COVID-19 will "just keep coming back."

In the meantime, Gates predicts we're in for a rough fall and winter with the virus, even though this virus does not appear to be seasonal.

"The fall could be tough," he told Brueck. "We'll be indoors more. It will be colder. We know those are things that push the disease up."