'I worry about all the economic damage but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries,' Bill Gates said. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Urging people to maintain calm and follow the safety guidelines, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said countries that do a good job in testing of the deadly coronavirus and shut down could bounce back both economically as well as on the health front in weeks. "If a country does a good job with testing and shut down, then within 6-10 weeks it should see very few cases and be able to open back up," Gates said on Wednesday in response to a question during his rare appearance at Reddit, a social media site which is popular among the younger generation.
He said a combination of testing and social isolation clearly works. "The current phase has a lot of the cases in rich countries. With the right actions including the testing and social distancing (which I call 'shut down'), within 2-3 months the rich countries should have avoided high levels of infection," Gates wrote in response to another question. "I worry about all the economic damage but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries and whose hospital capacity is much lower," he said.
He said the Gates Foundation has committed up to USD 100 million to help with the COVID-19 response around the world, as well as USD 5 million to support his home state of Washington, which after New York is one of the most hit by the coronavirus. The foundation, Gates said, is working with all the groups who make diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to make sure the right efforts are prioritised. "We want to make sure all countries get access to these tools. We donated USD 100 m in February for a variety of things and we will be doing more.
"One priority is to make sure that there is enough manufacturing capacity for therapeutics and vaccines. We have other efforts like our education group working to make sure the online resources for students are as helpful as they can be," he said.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has sought an unprecedented massive direct transfer of money to his countrymen to help them cope with the devastating impact that the deadly coronavirus is expected to have on the American economy.
The total volume of this direct transfer of money, likely to be in two instalments, is estimated at whooping USD 500 billion, which is one sixth of the Indian economy. If equally divided among the estimated 330 million American population, it comes to over USD 1500 (over Rs 1 lakh) per US citizen. Trump told reporters at a White House conference on Wednesday that no final decision has been taken yet, but multiple media reports said his administration has sent a proposal in this regard to the Congress.