Speaking to The Times in an interview published Friday, Gates was asked whether current politicians were up to the task of responding to the crisis.
The billionaire worded his answer carefully. “You go to war with the leaders you have […] In retrospect you get to judge how well that went,” he said.
“I do think the fact that the world was moving towards nationalism and countries taking care of themselves, that framing is not helpful. We all wish we had raised the rallying cry more quickly. Very few people get an A in terms of what they’ve done in this situation,” Gates added.
Gates was careful not to single out particular countries, but the UK, US, India, Brazil, and many other nations have moved towards nationalist politics in recent years. And the UK, US, and Brazil all initially downplayed or continue to downplay the coronavirus threat level.
Earlier this month Gates criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw US funding from the World Health Organization. The day after news of Trump’s withdrawal broke, Gates’ philanthropic organization the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it was pledging a further $150 million towards fighting the virus — bringing its running total up to $250 million. He has since said the foundation will devote all its resources to the coronavirus fight.