Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates firmly dismissed the theory that COVID-19 originated from a lab leak, but dubiously claimed that the pandemic came from bats with “one step in between.”
Gates appeared on The Daily Show on Tuesday to plug his new book, “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic,” and shot down host Trevor Noah’s assertion that lab safety was clutch to averting future outbreaks.
“I found myself reading the book, and I was fascinated, but I was going, shouldn’t we also be interested in how this pandemic came to be?” Noah remarked. “Like, it’s still shrouded in so much mystery. It’s like, how do we prevent something where we don’t even understand how it came to be?”
“Are there labs where they need to do better at, you know, enclosing the work that they’re doing? I understand that they have to do the work, but how do we figure that out, and how do we move forward in that realm?” he continued.
Gates made it clear that he didn’t believe the virus was man-made. “Well, we should be careful about lab safety. It’s quite clear in this case, that it came across through animals,” Gates replied.
“And almost all our diseases, like HIV, crossed over from chimpanzees in Africa quite some time ago. Ebola came from bats, this also, with one step in between came from bats,” he added. “So it’s going to keep happening, particularly with climate change where we’re eating a lot of habitats and you want to catch it as soon as you can.”
On Sunday, the tech CEO declared that the world hasn’t seen the end of deadly COVID-19 variants.
“We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,” he commented to the Financial Times. “It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5% risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it.”
Gates called for the formation of a $1 billion a year World Health Organization led Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization initiative to prepare for future pandemics.