- Bill Gates in 2015 warned that the next global catastrophe would be a highly infectious virus.
- As the coronavirus pandemic started sweeping the world, Gates quickly became an authoritative figure and voice of reason on the topic.
- Gates has said the coronavirus has been able to spread more rapidly in the United States due to misinformation on social media sites like Facebook.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been something of an authority on how best to keep the virus contained. And while this may seem a bit odd at first glance, recall that Gates at a TED Talk in 2015 accurately predicted that the next global catastrophe wouldn’t be a war, but rather a highly infectious virus.
“Part of the reason for this,” Gates explained, “is that we have invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we have actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.”
Put simply, Gates has long been worried about how a virus would impact the world at large. In turn, Gates is better positioned than most to discuss strategies we can implement to prevent the coronavirus from taking an even strong foothold in the United States. Notably, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated a considerable amount of money to various vaccine research funds well before the coronavirus put the entire world on lockdown.
Most recently, Gates spoke at the Fast Company Impact Council and articulated a few strategies to help combat the coronavirus. One of the more interesting points Gate made was that social media companies — which is sadly where many Americans exclusively get their news — could be doing a lot better to provide the public with accurate and helpful information.
“Can the social media companies be more helpful on these issues?” Gates asked rhetorically. “What creativity do we have? Sadly, the digital tools probably have been a net contributor to spreading what I consider crazy ideas.”
And Gates would know a little something about crazy coronavirus stories since he’s been at the center of a particularly bizarre conspiracy theory which claims that he not only knew of the coronavirus beforehand but was responsible for its proliferation. There have even been asinine claims that Gates is trying to leverage the coronavirus as an excuse to start digitally tracking people across the globe.
The spread of coronavirus misinformation is especially worrisome because it has convinced large segments of the population that wearing a mask is ineffective and that social distancing is wholly unnecessary.
“Not wearing masks is hard to understand because it’s not that bothersome,” Gates said. “It’s not expensive, and yet some people feel it’s a sign of freedom or something, despite the risk of infecting other people.”
All that said, Gates argues that we’ll need increased leadership, both from politicians and social media companies, if we want to prevent a second wave from hitting later this fall.
Gates’ full interview with Fast Company is particularly informative and can be viewed in its entirety over here.