We no longer have a supply problem with vaccines. The only question left is, are you limited by demand or by logistics. In less vaccinated countries, there isn’t much demand. In Nigeria, Covid would be, like, the 15th-largest cause of death—you’ve got HIV, TB, malaria, diarrhea. So when you say to them, “Hey, number 15,” they’re like, “Well, what about number one, number two, number three, number four—show me some dead bodies!”
I love these articles that say, “Hey, if these countries don’t vaccinate themselves, they’re going to generate variants and screw us.” There’s not much science to support that.
Wait, you’re saying that vaccinating globally wouldn’t reduce the chances of a more dangerous variant?
What science do you have that suggests that? These are not transmission-blocking vaccines. Do you have that through your head? Vaccines do not reduce the number of cases. Where’s the logic? You’re going to get less variants because … ? What the hell is this?
[Levy: OK. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist whom Gates cites in his book, says it’s true that with Omicron, the current vaccines did a relatively poor job of preventing transmission. But they still cut the likelihood of getting sick, and they shorten the course of the disease in infected people, giving potential variants less time to emerge. “Anybody who says that vaccinating as many people as possible is not important in preventing variants is making a mistake,” says Brilliant.]
I’ve been struck by the pushback on vaccines. It seems that in terms of being a science-based, logic-based society, we’re going backward.
I think you’re a naive person. How popular was evolution before the pandemic? Less than 50 percent.
[Levy: He’s close. A University of Michigan study of the last 35 years reported that acceptance of evolution became the majority opinion in 2016.]
People weren’t taking to the streets or blocking borders to demonstrate against biologists like they are with vaccines.
We’re not a broadly scientific debating society. Are you sure that we went backward?
Well, you’ve been the object of criticism for years, but before the pandemic very few people were marching around outside and calling for your arrest or execution.
Now I’m a focus. Anthony Fauci and me. There’s some pretty crazy stuff, right up there with QAnon, Pizzagate, all that stuff. I wouldn’t have anticipated that. To the degree that people don’t want to use masks, that’s a problem.
On top of everything else, we have Ukraine. You’re not alarmed that we’re going backward?
I’d rather be alive today than at some time in the past. And I’d highly recommend that to other people. So if you think we’re going backward, wow.
In some respects, I do think that. We’re not too far apart in age. The years when we grew up and conducted our careers were, for some people, a sort of a golden age in this country.
Would you have wanted to be a gay person 40 years ago? Would you rather be a woman then than now?