The US President has warned between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 before health officials there bring the outbreak under control. But Mr Gates believes the number of people who lose their lives as a result of the disease could be much lower.
If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with a death number well short of that
He told Fox News: “If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with a death number well short of that.”
But the billionaire philanthropist acknowledged it was “very important those figures are out there” so people understand the severity of the situation.
As of last night, there were at least 312,245 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US including more than 8,500 deaths.
Globally, there are more than 1.2 million cases and at least 65,711 deaths.
Mr Gates, who left Microsoft’s board last month to focus on his philanthropic work, said COVID-19 cases should begin to level off later towards the end of the month if people continue practising safe social distancing and remain in quarantine.
He said: “This is a nightmare scenario because human-to-human transmittal respiratory viruses can grow exponentially.
“If we had kept on going to work and travelling like we were, that curve would never bend until you had the majority of the people infected and then a massive number seeking hospital care and lots of lots of deaths.”
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Mr Gates said he doubted life could “go back to truly normal until we have a vaccine that we’ve gotten out to basically the entire world”.
And said while the coronavirus pandemic was “super, super bad” it was not “the worst case” and compared COVID-19′s low fatality rate compared to a disease like smallpox.
In 2015, Mr Gates warned disease was more likely to claim millions of lives than a war in the coming decades.
And he said only 5 percent of what should have been done to address a situation such as a coronavirus pandemic had been carried out since then.
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He told Fox News: “It’s hard to put money into something where you don’t know if it’s going to happen.
“I am sure after this, which is just such a gigantic impact, we will put that money in.”
Mr Gates said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was contributing up to £81.5 million to the global response to COVID-19.
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