Story at a glance

  • Gates said leaders need to own up to the fact the U.S. did not do a good job on testing.
  • He said the U.S. has more capacity to test than any other country “by a huge amount.”
  • More than 6.8 million coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the U.S. with nearly 200,000 deaths.

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Sunday said it’s “outrageous” people in the U.S. have to wait more than one day to get their coronavirus test results back. 

During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Gates said the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results in the U.S. is still inadequate more than six months into the pandemic that has infected more than 6.8 million people and left nearly 200,000 dead across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. 


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“Even today, people don’t get their results in 24 hours. It’s outrageous that we still have that,” Gates said during the interview. 

“I do think we need to own up to the fact that we didn’t do a good job. Part of the reluctance I think to fix the testing system now is that nobody wants to admit that it’s still outrageous...The U.S. has more of these machines, more of this capacity than other countries by a huge amount,” Gates added. 

Since the start of the pandemic, testing shortages in the U.S. have hampered efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, although the amount of daily tests has improved significantly over the duration of the coronavirus crisis. 


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The U.S. set a one-day record with more than 1 million coronavirus diagnostic tests performed on Saturday after the number of testing has fallen for several weeks. The U.S. tested on average 650,000 people a day in the week ending on Sept. 13, a decrease from the peak of more than 800,000 a day in late July, according to Reuters. Experts have estimated the U.S. needs 6 million to 10 million tests a day to contain outbreaks. 

The length of time to get test results depends on the type of test and where it took place. In most cases, it takes several days. 

Gates also estimated that the U.S. could begin to inch closer toward some normality by next summer if a vaccine is found to be safe and effective by the beginning of next year and isdistributed equitably among wealthy and low-and-middle-income countries. 

“The end of the epidemic? The best case is probably 2022 but during 2021, the numbers, we should be able to drive them down if we take the global approach,” Gates said. 


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Published on Sep 21, 2020