Bill Gates: Government can't 'wave a wand' and fix the economy to how it was

Bill Gates: Government can't 'wave a wand' and fix the economy to how it was
© getty: Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates on Thursday said that the federal government won't be able to fix the economy — which has been sent into a tailspin by the coronavirus pandemic — overnight.

“No one should think the government can wave a wand and all of a sudden the economy is anything like it was before this happened," Gates told CNBC's "Squawk Box." “That awaits either a miracle therapeutic that has an over 95 percent cure rate, or broad usage of the vaccine.”

“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,” he added.

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The philanthropist also said that the country could begin reopening by the end of May, noting that the U.S. was going to have to figure out a way to restart normal daily life without a vaccine to help combat COVID-19.

Gates noted that effective treatments for the disease could be ready to go in four to six months, but that a functional vaccine could still take up to 18 months.

“There’s an approach called RNA vaccine that people like Moderna, CureVac and others are using, that in 2015 we’d identified as very promising for pandemics and for other applications as well. And so if everything goes perfectly with the RNA approach, we could actually beat the 18 months," Gates said.

About 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment during the first week of April. In the past three weeks, nearly 17 million people have filed initial claims for unemployment due to the economic downfall caused by the outbreak, spiking the country's unemployment rate to 10 percent.

Last month, Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board so that he could devote more of his time to his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the foundation, Gates has pledged $100 million towards fighting the pandemic. He's funded coronavirus testing kits that people can use at home and has said that he will help pay for factories that can produce an eventual vaccine.