Schools likely will reopen this fall, but the government won't be able to "wave a wand" and restore the U.S. economy to the way it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Thursday.
“The behavior of people in terms of wanting to travel or go to events or even go to a restaurant, it’s been utterly changed by the concerns about this disease,” the billionaire philanthropist said in an interview airing on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
The nation's schools have also taken a hit because many students do not have either computers or internet access needed for remote learning.
"Different school districts have decided some don’t do online learning because it would be unjust in terms of the kids who don’t have access," said Gates.
However, he said he does believe the nation could reopen by the end of May, even before a vaccine becomes available, but that won't include "big public sports-type events," as businesses in China and South Korea are resuming.
"Eventually, the government’s going to have to take all the expert input and create a new regime for what’s going on that’s extremely sensitive to how well it’s working through the quick-turnaround, prioritized testing," said Gates.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed up to $100 million to respond to the pandemic, and Gates is backing coronavirus tests that people can take at home. He also has offered to help pay for factories that will produce vaccines.
A new COVID-19 vaccine backed by the foundation has entered phase 1 clinical human testing. Gates on Thursday said he agrees that it could take up to 18 months to release a safe COVID-19 vaccine.
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