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‘I think that is a very positive thing’: Bill Gates explains the digital silver lining to the COVID pandemic

May 9, 2022, 3:57 PM UTC

The pandemic is often only discussed with regard to its negative impact on mental health, but Bill Gates has pointed to COVID-19 as a catalyst for the world being digitized at warp speed.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported last month that more than a third of high school students experienced poor mental health during the outbreak, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless in 2021.

As the Microsoft founder on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday recalled: “The idea of videoconferencing was very much a niche thing.

“You know, it’s been at world fairs forever, [but] there were a few people who did that.”

Gates, who also recently spoke about his experiences with vaccine conspiracy theories, noted that everything changed in the pandemic, where all engagement was forced to be done digitally, leaving irreversible effects in the medical and psychological fields.

“The software improved a lot. I think the medical vertical, particularly for behavioral, mental type consultation, will be forever changed,” he said.

“I think that is a very positive thing. And the software involved is going to get a lot better. I wouldn’t underestimate that accelerated digitization including in health and education substantially,” Gates said.

Divorce ‘failure’

The interview with Zakaria covered everything from Bill Gates’ new book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, to his recent divorce from Melinda Gates.

Gates noted that inflationary problems brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the fallout from the pandemic were likely to accelerate, noting interest rates put into place were likely to cause a global economic slowdown.

“I’m afraid the bears on this one have a pretty strong argument that concerns me a lot,” Gates said.

Countries including the U.S., the U.K., and India have all started to raise interest rates to tamp down inflation, leading to a slump in global stocks.

He ended the interview shedding light on his recent divorce from Melinda Gates, cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I certainly feel bad about the mistakes I made that contributed to it,” he said, adding that he considered it a failure.

He added that he felt lucky to continue working with her on the foundation and sheepishly finished the interview by noting: “I don’t have the answers in those realms like I hope I do in things like climate technology or vaccine technology.”

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