COVID-19: Bill Gates hopeful world ‘completely back to normal’ by end of 2022 – and vaccine sharing to ramp up

The philanthropist and entrepreneur also criticises the UK government for cutting the foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5%.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has told Sky News he remains hopeful the world will be “completely back to normal” by the end of 2022, as excess COVID-19 vaccines become available.

Speaking to the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, the Microsoft founder pointed to the high rollout rate of coronavirus jabs in richer countries including the US and UK, helping free up doses to share with other countries.

While he did not expect COVID-19 to be stamped out by next year, he expected the number of cases to be able to be cut to “very small numbers” by the end of 2022.

The 65-year-old also insisted preparing for future pandemics was “a top priority” and expressed concern it would be forgotten about as it was in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.

However, due to the devastating global economic and human cost of the pandemic believed “that this generation will remember this”.

On the reduction to the UK overseas aid budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%, Mr Gates said the sooner it was restored “the better” because of its “critical importance” in tackling diseases such as polio.

He said British voters should be “very proud” of its impact, but warned this would be diminished unless the cut – made in response to the economic effects of the pandemic – was reversed.