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Bill Gates: Things can start returning to normal by June — if we ‘get our act together’

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates thinks the U.S. may be able to start relaxing coronavirus shutdowns and getting back to normal by the end of May or early June — but doesn’t know what that “normal” will look like.

“If we get our act together and if the compliance is very high … by early June, we’ll be looking at some type of opening up,” Gates said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday. “We’re gonna have this intermediate period of opening up, and it won’t be normal until we get an amazing vaccine to the entire world.” 

Gates also said that while he thinks school is out for the rest of this school year, he believes students will be able to resume their studies, as usual, this fall. 

Bill Gates
Bill Gates delivers a speech in 2019. NurPhoto / Contributor

But when it comes to activities like sporting events or other larger group gatherings, Gates is unsure of when those can come back. 

“The discussion of which activities bring societal value and how much risk of rebound they bring, that’s something everybody should participate in,” he said. “I don’t think going to big public sports-type events — that the economic benefits relative to the risk will work out until we are back into normal times.” 

Gates has been outspoken about taking the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, seriously. His foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is even working on a vaccine, which he also talked about in Thursday’s interview. 

He said that the foundation is interested in the RNA vaccine approach, which makes disease-fighting antigens inside the body, rather than in a lab. 

“If everything goes perfectly with the RNA approach, we can actually beat the 18 months estimated for how long it will take to create a vaccine,” he said  

In the past, Gates said that vaccines must be a priority and that multiple efforts are going on to produce a successful vaccine. 

“We will have to build lots of manufacturing for the different approaches knowing that some of them will not work. We will need literally billions of vaccines to protect the world,” he said during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session last month. 

Gates has pledged to spend billions of dollars investing in factories to make vaccines, despite knowing that he may lose much of the investment on cures that don’t pan out.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

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