Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and his foundation have donated $100 million to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Gates spoke to "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason about what he thinks can be done.
"Oh my God, yes, you know, look, there's no traffic on the bridge. And oh yeah, my first meeting is on that computer screen… and somebody's gonna leave some food, but I won't see them," he said, paraphrasing his daily inner monologue.
"This is super dramatic. You know, I use computer screens a lot. And I think about pandemics a lot. And even so, I can hardly believe we're in this situation," he said.
Mason: You also talked in 2015 about the potential economic consequences of this… How concerned are you about the resiliency of the American economy?
Gates: Well, the economy is being hurt… It's great that Congress has acted. We probably'll need to do more there …But you know, the economy can return in a way that people who get sick and die cannot.
Mason: You've been in touch with leaders in Washington. Have you talked with the president about this?
Gates: I've not talked directly to the president. Our foundation is trying to be as helpful in a very constructive way as possible. And that's why I've talked to the head of the pharmaceutical companies. We've talked to a lot of the agencies, including CDC and NIH about how we work together on the vaccine and the drugs.
Mason: …is there anything that's really surprised you about what's happened?
Gates: You know, I thought we would respond a bit faster. …what we're doing, how we're having to change the economy here in order to drop the number of cases, it's, you know, it's really unprecedented… Even the issue of once you get the cases numbers down… but what does opening up look like? You know, which activities have, like schools, have such benefit and can be done in a way that the risk of transmission is very low?
Gates: And which activities, like mass gatherings, may be— in a certain sense— more optional. And so until you're widely vaccinated, those may not come back at all.
Mason: Do you think we're gonna think about pandemics differently from now on?
Gates: Well, that is for sure. You know, there were a few movies— they weren't that popular— about this. And to make them at least a little bit popular, they usually had some miracle happen at the end where some hero, you know, invented something and, boom, everything was back to normal… No, the awareness of this is a threat, and probably the biggest threat to, you know, kill tens of millions of people. That will be permanently embedded. So this time, I do think we will get ourselves ready for the next pandemic.
Mason: Have you had any trouble getting adjusted to social distancing at home?
Gates: Yeah, I find it so disconcerting to wake up every morning and think, "Well, that was a strange dream I had," and then say, "Oh my God, yes, you know, look, there's no traffic on the bridge. And oh yeah, my first meeting is on that computer screen… and somebody's gonna leave some food, but I won't see them." This is super dramatic. You know, I use computer screens a lot. And I think about pandemics a lot. And even so, I can hardly believe we're in this situation.