Bill Gates expects COVID to become less severe than seasonal flu next year

Microsoft co-founder and noted philanthropist Bill Gates

© APA | Microsoft co-founder and noted philanthropist Bill Gates

# 18 November 2021 15:06 (UTC +04:00)

The mortality rate from COVID-19 is likely to decrease with incidence rates trending lower than seasonal flu by summer 2022 unless fresh unexpected strains occur, Microsoft co-founder and noted philanthropist Bill Gates said on Thursday, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

"Between natural immunity, vaccine immunity and these oral treatments that can scale up [the immunity] in the way the antibodies never did, the death rate and the severe disease rates ought to be coming down pretty dramatically and, you know, by next summer getting to be, say, quite a bit lower than the average seasonal flu level is, assuming there are no surprise variants", Gates told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

While the emergence of new strains is estimated as rather unlikely to happen due to "pretty impressive" data about the vaccine rollout and the development of oral drugs, this scenario cannot be completely ruled out.

"The vaccines are very good news. The supply constraints will be largely solved as we get out in the middle of next year and so will be limited by the logistics and the demand", Gates explained.

In some African nations, hit not so hard by the pandemic like other parts of the world, the vaccine demand so far remains a challenge, but the international community will make efforts to solve it, he added.

Gates also elaborated on oral medicines against COVID-19 produced by drugmakers Merck and Pfizer, saying that Merck-developed medication might cost below $8, allowing any coronavirus-infected person from at-risk groups to receive prompt treatment.