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Bill Gates issues 2022 COVID prediction

·3-min read
Bill Gates looks off camera - close image.
Bill Gates has issued a warning, but also some hope about COVID-19 and 2022. (Source: Getty)

The new year poses severe risks but also the opportunity to end the COVID-19 pandemic, billionaire Microsoft co-founder and pandemic expert Bill Gates has warned.

In a series of Tweets, the US$136.9 billion (AU$189.81 billion) entrepreneur warned the US could be approaching “the worst part of the pandemic”, given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

"We need to take it seriously until we know more about it. Even if it's only half as severe as Delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it's so infectious," Gates said.

He believes the Omicron variant will trigger a three-month wave in the US, but says, beyond that, the world has the chance to end the pandemic.

“Omicron is spreading faster than any virus in history. It will soon be in every country in the world,” he said.

“If there’s good news here, it’s that Omicron moves so quickly that once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than three months.”

He said while it was “frustrating” to enter another holiday season with COVID throwing plans into disarray, there was an end in sight.

“There will be more breakthrough cases in people who are vaxxed, which sounds concerning but is purely a factor of how many people are vaxxed and how fast this variant is spreading,” Gates said.

“Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying, and are doing that well.

“It won’t be like this forever. Someday the pandemic will end, and the better we look after each other, the sooner that time will come.”

Gates predicted COVID in 2015

Gates sounded the alarm on the threat of a global pandemic in 2015, warning that the world needed “germ games” in the same way it uses war games to prepare for conflict.

Then, in 2018, he warned a flu pandemic could wipe out 33 million people, and in January 2019, he said he lost sleep over the risk of a global health crisis.

A joint simulation carried out by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security and the World Economic Forum ran a simulation in 2019 of a COVID outbreak.

That simulation - modelled on the SARS virus - suggested 65 million could die within 18 months.

Omicron chaos in Australia

Locally, the Omicron variant continues to pose challenges for leaders and health authorities.

NSW recorded 5,715 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday morning and has reinstated QR check-in codes.

Queensland recorded 369 new cases and has introduced new mask rules for hospitality staff, and for people in cinemas and theatres.

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