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Bill Gates says in interview that he expected the US would do a better job of handling such a crisis

(REUTERS)

Bill Gates has an ominous prediction for 2021. The billionaire philanthropist has warned that there will likely be no respite from coronavirus globally, and that the first four to six months of next year could be the worst so far.

“Sadly, the next four to six months could be the worst of the pandemic. The IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) forecast shows over 200,000 additional deaths,” Mr Gates told CNN on Sunday.

He said that a large percentage of those deaths can be avoided if people followed Covid-19 rules, including wearing masks and avoiding mixing.

Mr Gates, who is also the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said he was disappointed at America’s handling of the pandemic as cases and the death toll continued to mount.

“I thought the US would do a better job handling it,” he said.

“This virus could be more fatal than it is. We didn’t get the worst-case. But the thing that has surprised me is that the economic impact in the US and around the world has been much greater than the forecasts that I made five years ago.”

The Microsoft co-founder had predicted during a TED talk in 2015 that a pandemic was likely to hit the world and over 10 million people would be killed with “microbes, not missiles.”

He had earlier said that normalcy would return during spring when the “numbers are going to change drastically.”

Mr Gates’s foundation has invested millions of dollars to fund research for a Covid-19 vaccine as well as for testing and logistics. The foundation pledged $70m to ensure the vaccine reaches everyone, including impoverished nations, when it arrives.

Mr Gates said blocking international sharing and cooperation has been “disruptive and a mistake” during the pandemic when asked about Donald Trump’s “America first” approach towards vaccination.

“We want the world economy to be going. We want to minimise the deaths. And, you know, the basic technology is a German company,” he said, adding the US need to support all of humanity.

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Moving forward, the countries need to ramp up the capacity for vaccine distribution and production, he said.

The year has been marked with calamities, including devastating forest fires, earthquakes, and storms.

Since first being recorded late last year in China, the coronavirus has infected 7.2m people around the world and resulted in over 1m deaths. As the worst-hit country during the pandemic, the US has seen nearly 300,000 deaths due to the virus among 16 million total cases.

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