Bill Gates Criticizes COVID-19 Testing in US

A new interview offered candid takes on the pandemic and governmental responses

Bill Gates
Bill Gates in 2017.
Mueller/MSC / Creative Commons

In recent years, Bill Gates has emerged as a prominent advocate for increased public health measures and has spoken frequently about the best ways to address the ongoing pandemic. Now, as the variations in global responses to COVID-19 have become more clear, what does Gates think of how the United States — and the rest of the world — has responded?

Steven Levy spoke with Gates for WIRED, and in this candid interview Gates pulled few punches — including some pointed criticism of the COVID-19 tests being used in the United States right now. “I’m surprised at the US situation because the smartest people on epidemiology in the world, by a lot, are at the CDC,” Gates told WIRED. “I would have expected them to do better.”

Gates was particularly pointed when he came to the topic of testing in the United States — and the issues with getting test results back in a rapid enough amount of time. For Gates, this could be fixed reasonably easily when it comes to the reimbursement system set up for tests:

You have to have the reimbursement system pay a little bit extra for 24 hours, pay the normal fee for 48 hours, and pay nothing [if it isn’t done by then]. And they will fix it overnight.

As for when Gates thinks the pandemic will be over, well — you might want to keep your mask collection freshened up. “[F]or 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.

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