Skip to main content

5 key insights on coronavirus from Bill Gate’s Reddit AMA

Bill Gates took to Reddit on Wednesday to answer questions about the COVID-19 outbreak during an Ask Me Anything session on the Coronavirus subreddit. The Microsoft co-founder, whose Gates Foundation helps fight disease around the world, shared some insights into his thoughts on the current global pandemic, as well as what we should be doing and can expect to happen these coming months. 

As of this writing, there have been more than 205,450 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and 8,248 confirmed deaths, according to an online dashboard that tracks cases. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus and lots of questions when it comes to what we can expect going forward. 

Here are the biggest takeaways from Gates’ coronavirus Reddit AMA.

Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

People need to stay inside and follow protocols right now

Gates said one thing that we do know is that social distancing is effective at limiting the spread of the virus and that we all need to be self-isolating right now. 

“A big thing is to go along with the ‘shutdown’ approach in your community so that the infection rate drops dramatically to let us go back to normal as soon as possible,” he wrote. “If you don’t do this, then the disease will spread to a high percentage of the population, and your hospitals will be overloaded with cases. So this should be avoided despite the problems caused by the shutdown.”

Developing countries will suffer the most 

“With the right actions, including the testing and social distancing, within 2-to-3 months, the rich countries should have avoided high levels of infection. I worry about all the economic damage, but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries and whose hospital capacity is much lower,” Gates wrote. “Most rich countries should be able to achieve a low level of infections. Some developing countries will not be able to do that.”

Be prepared to keep up social distancing for a while

Gates said to look at China right now as an example, since they are a couple of months ahead of us and slowly going back to normal.

“China is seeing very few cases now because their testing and shutdown was very effective. If a country does a good job with testing and shutdown, then within 6-to-10 weeks, they should see very few cases and be able to open back up,” Gates wrote.

Testing could be key to ending coronavirus crisis

Testing in the U.S. is nowhere near where it needs to be, and Gates said that getting the U.S. organized on testing will allow us to beat the virus quicker. 

“China is doing a lot of testing. South Korea is also doing a good job of testing. Once China got serious in January, they have been quite open about their cases, so yes, the good news is they are seeing very few infections at this point,” he said. 

“The testing in the U.S. is not organized yet,” Gates added. “In the next few weeks, I hope the government fixes this by having a website you can go to to find out about home testing and kiosks. Things are a bit confused on this right now.”

Gates also added that work is being done on getting test kits sent to people’s homes so that tests can get to the people who are a priority, such as the elderly or the immunocompromised. 

Vaccine efforts are a priority right now

According to Gates, there are currently six different efforts going on right now to make a coronavirus vaccine. 

“Some use a new approach called RNA, which is unproven. 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. Vaccines require testing to make sure they are safe and effective.” 

Gates added that when a successful vaccine is created, it will go to health care workers and “critical workers” first. 

“This could happen before 18 months if everything goes well, but we and [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony] Fauci and others are being careful not to promise this when we are not sure. The work is going at full speed,” he added. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Bill Gates is ‘super-worried’ about a second wave of coronavirus
Bill Gates

Bill Gates is concerned the United States is vulnerable to a second wave of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 if states are not careful about how they lift social distancing restrictions.

"I’m super-worried about it," Gates said in an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein Show Monday. "Unless they’re very gradual and pick the things that we know don’t raise the rate of infection over one, then you’re going to have this heterogeneity where parts of the U.S. will be doing well and other parts will be doing poorly. The temptation to interdict travel between those parts will be very difficult."

Read more
Bill Gates: We need these 4 innovations to end coronavirus quarantines
Bill Gates

We need to make major innovative strides before we can lift coronavirus quarantines, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote in a new Washington Post op-ed Thursday. 

Gates has been outspoken about taking the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, seriously. He recently predicted that if the U.S. can get its act together, states could potentially start to reopen by June. But there are still a few key areas we need to focus on for us to return to what was once normal.

Read more
Bill Gates has become a top target for coronavirus conspiracy theories
Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has become the leading target of far-right conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times consulted media analysis company Zignal Labs, which tracks posts on Facebook and found 16,000 posts on the site about Gates and coronavirus which between them had been liked and commented on almost 900,000 times.

Read more