Bill Gates: Here are the innovations we need to reopen the economy (WaPo)

Bill Gates is a co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This article is adapted from his blog post “Pandemic I: the First Modern Pandemic,” available at

It’s entirely understandable that the national conversation has turned to a single question: “When can we get back to normal?” The shutdown has caused immeasurable pain in jobs lost, people isolated and worsening inequity. People are ready to get going again.

Unfortunately, although we have the will, we don’t have the way — not yet. Before the United States and other countries can return to business and life as usual, we will need some innovative new tools that help us detect, treat and prevent covid-19.

It begins with testing. We can’t defeat an enemy if we don’t know where it is. To reopen the economy, we need to be testing enough people that we can quickly detect emerging hotspots and intervene early. We don’t want to wait until the hospitals start to fill up and more people die.

Innovation can help us get the numbers up. The current coronavirus tests require that health-care workers perform nasal swabs, which means they have to change their protective gear before every test. But our foundation supported research showing that having patients do the swab themselves produces results that are just as accurate. This self-swab approach is faster and safer, since regulators should be able to approve swabbing at home or in other locations rather than having people risk additional contact.

Another diagnostic test under development would work much like an at-home pregnancy test. You would swab your nose, but instead of sending it into a processing center, you’d put it in a liquid and then pour that liquid onto a strip of paper, which would change color if the virus was present. This test may be available in a few months…

Read this full piece in The Washington Post at


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