How to stop coronavirus and reopen economy

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Bill Gates

Gerard Miller | CNBC

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates outlined what the world needs to do to stop the Covid-19 pandemic and reopen the economy in a blog post Thursday. 

Gates said the world must advance its treatments, vaccines, testing and contact tracing. It also needs to examine its policies for opening up global economies, he said. He compared the pandemic to a war.

“During World War II, an amazing amount of innovation, including radar, reliable torpedoes, and code-breaking, helped end the war faster,” Gates said. “This will be the same with the pandemic.” Gates has been vocal on the Covid-19 pandemic and has described its spread as a “nightmare scenario.”

Here’s what Gates said on the five areas of innovation needed:

  • Treatment: Gates acknowledged that many treatments may fail, but said he’s optimistic some will be successful in reducing the coronavirus burden. The public will need a treatment that’s 95% effective in order for people to feel safe in public gatherings, such as football games or concerts, he said. He pointed toward the potential of using blood plasma or antibodies, antivirals and Hydroxychloroquine. 
  • Vaccines: “Short of a miracle treatment,” the only way for people to return to some sense of normal is through a vaccine, Gates said. However, he warned that it normally takes five years for a vaccination for a new disease to be brought to market. Gates said he’s optimistic a vaccine could emerge in 18 months, though it could be as short as 9 months or up to two years. 
  • Testing: Gates said the United States needs to prioritize and speed up Covid-19 testing to have results in one day. Gates said health workers should all have access to tests, while asymptomatic people should wait to be tested until all symptomatic people have been tested. People should also have access to taking tests at home, whether it’s a rapid result one or one that’s sent off to labs, he said.  
  • Contact tracing: Gates said that people who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive should be prioritized for testing and self-isolate. Gates believes that most countries will follow Germany’s contact-tracing lead, which requires interviewing those positive and using a database to confirm they followed-up with patients.
  • Opening up: Gates believes that most developed countries will enter the second phase of the pandemic in the next two months. That’s where the world is semi-normal, though people still practice social distancing. Countries will have to learn from other countries that have strong testing in place on when it’s appropriate to open up, he said. Gates added that officials will have to make trade-offs based on the risks and benefits. 

Since it emerged in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has infected more than 2.6 million people worldwide and killed at least 186,372 according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Read the full post from Bill Gates here. 

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