Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates called allegations that China cost the world valuable time by covering up the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus a “distraction” in an interview Sunday, adding that “China did a lot of things right at the beginning.”
Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, Gates pushed back on criticism of Beijing’s initial response, saying “I don’t think that’s a timely thing, because it doesn’t affect how we act today.”
“It’s not time to talk about that, this is the time to take the great science we have, the fact that we’re in this together, fix testing, treatments, and get that vaccine, and minimize the trillions of dollars and many things that you can’t even dimensionalize in economic terms that are awful, about the situation that we’re in,” Gates stated. “So that’s a distraction, I think there’s a lot of incorrect and unfair things said, but it’s not even time for that discussion.”
The challenges of fighting Covid-19 in developing countries, how China and the WHO have handled this crisis, and what to make of wild coronavirus conspiracy theories. Pt. 3 of my GPS interview w/ @BillGates: pic.twitter.com/QJJuAR52SM
— Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) April 26, 2020
A detailed timeline of Beijing’s response to the virus’s origins in Wuhan shows that the government gagged the spread of information about the virus for weeks after it had first been noticed, with health officials being warned privately of “a major public health event” nearly a week before the public was alerted to the threat.
U.S. intelligence believes that China purposefully misled the global community on the extent of its coronavirus outbreak, with one study finding that the government could have prevented 95 percent of coronavirus infections if it had acted sooner to stem the initial outbreak. Last week, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention admitted to state media that the government “knew there must be human-to-human transmission” of the novel virus, despite his organization saying January 15 that “the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low.”