Bill Gates returned to Reddit for his 10th “Ask Me Anything” session Thursday, answering questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, his US farmland ownership, what kind of phone he uses, and more.
Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was in front of death squad Reddit in March of 2021, where he faced a lot of questions about meat and misinformation.
By promoting his new book “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic,” Gates has been drawn to questions about COVID this time around, even though no one has asked him how he feels, eight days after he announced that he himself had tested positive for the disease.
Aside from the pandemic and vaccines, Gates answered a question about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, his thoughts on cryptocurrency, and the one thing he bought that brought him the most happiness.
Keep reading for some highlights:
COVID-19 Pandemic and Vaccines
- A very large portion of my country’s population (for some reason) believes that you are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and that you are trying to control the population by injecting chips into them through vaccines. “In 2015 I spoke about my fears of a pandemic emerging and causing tens of millions of deaths. My Foundation funds vaccine research to save lives. I spend billions on vaccines and am proud that they have helped halve the deaths of children under five over the past 20 years (from 10% to 5%). The idea of chips in vaccines doesn’t make sense. Why do I want to know where people are? What do I do with the information?”
- Why is the COVID-19 model behaving so differently in America compared to other countries? “New variants come in and avoid immunity from vaccination and infection. And immunity also diminishes fairly quickly in older people. When cases are high, people change their behavior and when they are low they go back to normal behavior. So you get big ups and downs in the case rate driven by seasons and variables and behavior People. Fortunately, Omicron is less lethal than previous variants.”
- Do you think there will be long-term repercussions for everyone going through Covid in the next few months because people aren’t ready to prevent the spread anymore? “Neither a vaccination nor an infection will prevent you from getting infected again but the disease will be milder and you will spread it less. Scientists funded by the Foundation are working on vaccines that will prevent you from getting infected, but those vaccines are 3-4 years away at best. So until then, We will have to continue to reinforce (especially people who are older or have comorbidities).”
- How are you guys preventing more strain mutations and adapting virus vaccine for the goal of “no more epidemics”? We can make vaccines that have 3 more things: broad, long-lasting coverage and infection prevention. These should be research and development priorities for epidemic prevention but will also be very beneficial for all kinds of diseases.”
- Do you have a degree in medicine? So why get involved in medicine? Why should your medical opinion matter? “The institution has a lot of medical experts. It takes a huge range of skills to do things like eradicate malaria or Covid vaccines and treatments. I listen to experts on specific medical advice. PPS will require much more than just doctors so I wrote a book to start a discussion What it should look like.
- How do you see climate change going to happen in the next 10-20 years? And how do we act as a civilization to face it? What is our biggest challenge? “The key is to be able to make things like electricity, steel, cement and meat without any emissions but at a cost equal to or less than today. My effort at Breakthrough Energy is to fund innovators and help them scale. I am optimistic because the progress in innovation in the past three years with The companies that have been funded are going well.”
- What can I do now to help climate change? “Since green products come like electric cars, artificial meat or heat pumps for home heating/cooling, they are going to cost quite a bit more. By purchasing these products, you are paying for expansion which will bring down prices and thus the ‘green premiums’ are reduced.” Other than your voice Politics or influence the company you work for, that’s probably the biggest thing you can do.”
- What are the biggest innovations in global and public health that you expect to see in the next five to ten years? “We are gaining an understanding of malnutrition. The solution to this would be huge for the 40% of children in Africa who have never fully developed their brains or bodies. We still need to prevent and treat HIV. We need to eradicate malaria (which will take decades). We are on the verge of eradicating polio. Other areas such as better contraception or understanding and preventing preterm birth and stillbirth are showing promise.”
- Which developing countries are you most optimistic about? Some so-called LMIC (low-middle-income) countries have great promise – Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. In Africa, it is important that Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia succeed. Ethiopia was doing well until the civil unrest, so hopefully they can get through that. Some of the smaller countries are doing well but we need the big ones as well to do a good job.”
- What do you plan to do with all the agricultural land you have purchased? “My investment team bought farmland. It’s less than 0.1% of all farmland in the US because the ownership is so diversified. We invest in farms to raise productivity. Some of them are close to cities and may end up for other uses.”
- What are your thoughts on indoor farming? “For some high-value crops it can work. For cereal crops like wheat, rice and maize, it is unlikely to be economical. We can greatly improve the seeds for all crops to increase productivity – and this is a major investment to help reduce the problems caused by climate change.”
- What advice would you give to young people who want to make a positive impact in this world? “The ideal is to read a lot and hopefully find a skill that you enjoy and can have an impact. For some, that means being great at science or engineering. For some, it means being a great communicator or politician. For some it means being a nurse. Or a female doctor. The opportunity to learn today is better than ever.”
- What do you think of bitcoin and cryptocurrency? “I don’t own any of it. I like investing in things that have a valuable output. The value of companies depends on how great products are made. The value of cryptocurrency is just what someone else decides someone else is going to pay for it, so don’t add it to society like other investments” .
- Can you still jump over a chair from a standing position? “My chair is smaller than what I could do at the age of 30…too small now. I try to keep fit while playing a lot of tennis.”
- How did you handle the tension during all the class action lawsuits in the 1990s and 2000s? “Although those lawsuits have been difficult, I have been very fortunate in my life and had a good team of people working with me to help settle these lawsuits and move forward.”
- Just how was Epstein Island? What did you do there? “I have never visited any of his islands. I have had meetings where global health funding has been discussed. Looking back, I am sorry to meet him.”
- What is the type of phone? “I have an Android Galaxy ZFold3. I try different variants. With this screen I can handle a great laptop, phone and nothing else.”
- What is the one thing you bought that brought you the most happiness? “If we succeed in eradicating polio that will be a lot of fun. It took a lot of patience and a great strategy to get close to success. The thing that has worked best so far is funding vaccines for poor countries through GAVI. I love burgers and great tennis rackets and all the streaming services direct but nothing too unique.”