- Bill Gates says there's one massive problem with COVID-19 tests in the US: results take too long to come back.
- He said in a recent interview with WIRED that the majority of US COVID-19 tests are "completely garbage" and "wasted."
- To solve the problem of slow testing, Gates said medical providers shouldn't receive payment for COVID-19 tests unless they can produce results within 48 hours.
- He also called on Mark Zuckerberg to do more to combat the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories on Facebook.
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Bill Gates believes one of the biggest roadblocks to effective COVID-19 testing in the US is "stupidity," he said in an interview with WIRED published Friday.
Specifically, Gates said most US tests are "completely garbage" because it takes so long to return results. Coronavirus tests across the US regularly take more than a week to return results, frustrating public health authorities who rely on timely testing data.
"Well, that's just stupidity," Gates said when asked about the delays in testing results. "The majority of all US tests are completely garbage, wasted."
The Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist said he thinks there's a simple solution: Medical providers should only receive payment for tests if they return results within 48 hours.
"If you don't care how late the date is and you reimburse at the same level, of course they're going to take every customer. Because they are making ridiculous money," Gates said. "You have to have the reimbursement system pay a little bit extra for 24 hours, pay the normal fee for 48 hours, and pay nothing [if it isn't done by then]. And they will fix it overnight."
For years, Gates had warned that the US was unprepared for a massive pandemic. Since the onset of COVID-19, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has heavily funded testing and vaccine research.
Gates himself has also become the target of conspiracy theories stemming from his high-profile advocacy for a more robust response to the virus, including a false theory that Gates plans to inject people with microchips under the pretense of administering vaccines.
In Friday's WIRED interview, Gates acknowledged that conspiracy theories spread like wildfire on social media and suggested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should do more to combat misinformation on Facebook.
"I like Mark, I think he's got very good values, but he and I do disagree on the trade-offs involved there," Gates said. "We give literally tens of billions for vaccines to save lives, then people turn around saying, 'No, we're trying to make money and we're trying to end lives.' That's kind of a wild inversion of what our values are and what our track record is."
Gates also weighed in on the potential Microsoft acquisition of TikTok's US and international operations, calling President Trump's interference in the deal "pretty bizarre."
Read Bill Gates' full WIRED interview here.
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