Bill Gates: 'Worst Part of the Pandemic' Could Lie Ahead

He says he's canceled Christmas plans because of the omicron variant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2021 2:56 PM CST
Bill Gates: This Could Be the 'Worst Part of the Pandemic'
COVID-19 testing specialists Alex Honn, right, and Tokeya Berry test a driver at a drive-up coronavirus testing location Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Bellingham, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Bill Gates says he's taking the rise of the omicron variant extremely seriously and has canceled most of his holiday plans. In a series of tweets Tuesday night, the Microsoft co-founder warned that omicron is now "spreading faster than any virus in history," CNN reports. "Just when it seemed like life would return to normal, we could be entering the worst part of the pandemic," he wrote. "Omicron will hit home for all of us." He said the "big unknown" is how sick the variant makes people—and even if it's "only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it's so infectious." Gates said some of his close friends have been infected.

Gates, whose foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to vaccine research, said there will be more breakthrough cases because of how many people are vaccinated and how fast the variant is spreading, but "vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying & are doing that well." He urged people to "look out for each other" by wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, and getting vaccinated. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's top medical adviser, warned that the variant is "just raging around the world," the AP reports. The CDC confirmed this week that omicron is now the dominant variant in the US, accounting for an estimated 73% of COVID cases.

Gates said that an upside to the speed of omicron's spread is that the surge could pass relatively quickly, Hill reports. He said the wave should pass in less than three months. "Those few months could be bad, but I still believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022," Gates wrote. He added: "I know it’s frustrating to go into another holiday season with COVID-19 looming over us. But it won’t be like this forever. Someday the pandemic will end, and the better we look after each other, the sooner that time will come." (Omicron researchers in South Africa are cautiously optimistic.)

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