Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week released a blog post in which he reflected on 2021, which he described as “the most unusual and difficult year of my life,” due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and his divorce from his wife of almost 30 years.
Gates writes that much of his year was “spent mostly online,” due to the pandemic, adding that despite being vaccinated his “social life is still a lot more digital than it used to be.”
“It’s been a strange and disorienting experience. My personal world has never felt smaller than it did over the last twelve months,” he wrote.
Gates goes on to note that his “family also experienced a lot of changes beyond what you probably saw in the news,” an apparent reference to his divorce from Melinda French Gates, saying that his oldest daughter recently got married while his youngest left the house for college, making him “officially an empty nester.”
He later expands on why he’s “hopeful the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is finally in sight,” despite noting that “the improvement hasn’t been as dramatic as I hoped” it would be in 2021.
“More people died from COVID in 2021 than in 2020,” Gates wrote. “If you’re one of the millions of people who lost a loved one to the virus over the last twelve months, you certainly don’t think this year was any better than last.”
He added that he didn’t foresee the arrival of the delta variant, or “how tough it would be to convince people to take the vaccine and continue to use masks.”
“I am hopeful, though, that the end is finally in sight. It might be foolish to make another prediction, but I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come to a close some time in 2022,” Gates wrote, noting that “there’s no question that the omicron variant is concerning.”
He added that “it’s troubling any time a new variant of concern emerges, but I’m still hopeful that, at some point next year, COVID-19 will become an endemic disease in most places. Although it is currently about 10 times more lethal than flu, vaccines and antivirals could cut that number by half or more. Communities will still see occasional outbreaks, but new drugs will be available that could take care of most cases and hospitals will be able to handle the rest.”
According to Gates, “Your individual risk level will be low enough that you won’t need to factor it into your decision-making as much. It won’t be primary when deciding whether to work from the office or let your kids go to their soccer game or watch a movie in a theater. In a couple years, my hope is that the only time you will really have to think about the virus is when you get your joint COVID and flu vaccine every fall.”
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