The number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 will drop "pretty dramatically" by the middle of the next year as more people get vaccinated and new treatments become available, said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
COVID-19 deaths and disease rates may tumble below the average seasonal flu levels by mid-2022, he said, assuming there are no new dangerous variants emerging in the meantime.
Between vaccine and natural immunity and emerging oral treatments, "the death rate and the disease rate ought to be coming down pretty dramatically" Gates said through a virtual interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Thursday.
Citing various reasons for the decline in the infection rate and deaths, Gates said vaccine distribution will pick up, more people will develop natural immunity and new anti-viral pills will become available.
As supply issues get resolved, the constraints of vaccinations will shift next year, Gates said.
“Vaccines are very good news, and the supply constraints will be largely solved as we get out in the middle of next year, and so we’ll be limited by the logistics and the demand,” the billionaire said.
He said it was necessary to work on eliminating the flu to reduce threats from future pandemics.
“To avoid the next pandemic, we have to eradicate the flu as well because its mutations are another significant source of pandemic risks,” he said.
According to Gates, it is unclear what the demand level in a lot of countries like sub-Saharan Africa will be in the future.
"A lot of risk for future pandemic comes out of sub-Saharan Africa. So, we need surveillance systems that can work even when the local government is dysfunctional or not interested in imparting the information,” he said.