Bill Gates said something astonishing for a Fox News guest: He not only harshly criticized Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gates said Trump’s much-ballyhooed travel ban made things worse. And he was not shut down over it.
Trump worshiper Sean Hannity refers to his beloved's travel ban as "The single best decision to keep Americans safe, period!” - so tough luck that now more than 200,000 Americans have now died from it, apparently. But Bill Gates told Fox viewers today that it did more harm than good. And while Hannity likes to fashion himself as a public health expert, Gates has the real chops. His Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been fighting infectious diseases since 1997.
Gates appeared on Fox News Sunday today to talk about the Gates Foundation’s global health initiatives and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its work.
In the middle of the interview Wallace asked Gates, “How well has the U.S. handled the coronavirus?” Guests are usually pre-screened so that hosts know more or less what they will say to pre-determined questions. So it’s hard to believe Wallace did not know what he was asking for with this question. Rather than seeming shocked by the answer, Wallace emphasized it and asked for more.
GATES: Well, unfortunately, we did a very poor job and you can just see that in the numbers. If you compare the Asian countries like South Korea and Australia, you know the key was the, getting the testing going. You know, what happened was that 40,000 people came out of China because we didn’t ban the residents and citizens from coming in. So we created this rush and we didn’t have the ability to test or quarantine those people.
And so that seeded the disease here. You know the ban probably accelerated that, the way it was executed and we, we just didn’t go to the commercial providers and get the tests ready. The FDA made it harder. And so we’re - even today, people don’t get their results in 24 hours, which it’s outrageous that we still have that.
WALLACE: I just want to pick up on that. You’re saying that the travel bans made the situation worse, not better?
GATES: Yeah. So when you have people realize that the flights are going to start to get canceled and if they don’t, the citizens and residents, if they don’t come back right away [they won't be able to do so later], you get a rush and that’s where you really need to do like South Korea, Australia did, where you take those people and you test them and if you can’t test them, you put them in quarantine. If they test positive, you put them in quarantine. We didn’t do that. We didn’t have any community testing. We didn’t have the scale of testing, which would have required the commercial providers.
And so that meant that March saw this incredible explosion. The west coast coming from China and then the east coast coming out of Europe. And so even though we’d seen China and we’d seen Europe, that testing capacity and clear message of how to behave wasn't there and that’s led to us having not just a bad spring, we’ve had a pretty tough summer and, sadly, because of the seasonality, until we get these new tools, the fall’s looking to shape up as pretty tough as well.
I do think, you know, we need to own up to the fact that we didn’t do a good job. You know part of the reluctance, I think, to fix the testing system now is that nobody wants to admit that it’s still outrageous that the access to the test is depending on the more wealthy get access and you have these delays where you’re not seeing the answer within 24 hours which you just – that, that should not be the case. The U.S. has more of these machines, more of this capacity than other countries by a huge amount and so partly the reimbursement system is creating perverse incentive but you know, looking back, you know, my main focus now is let’s get the tools right and let’s get the testing right now.
You know, we will have time to look at those mistakes which in February, March, were really super unfortunate but you know we can’t pretend like we’re, we’re, we get a good grade, even today.
Wallace responded by moving to his next question, how long will it take the developing world to get back to where they were at the start of 2020, before the pandemic. For the record, Gates said he is optimistic about getting back on track but did not offer a time frame.
You can watch comments that will surely drive Trump, his baby Twitter fingers and his Fox worshipers crazy, if they watch it, below, from the September 20, 2020 Fox News Sunday.