Billionaire software tycoon Bill Gates has urged the US to prepare for a Covid-19 vaccine rollout by deputizing trusted community leaders to "reduce vaccine hesitancy," bemoaning the rapid spread of "conspiracy theories" online.
The Microsoft founder-turned-vaccine-evangelist painted a mostly rosy picture of a vaccine rollout getting "rich countries" back to normal by the end of 2021 in an interview during the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council on Tuesday.
However, with less than half of Americans saying they'd get a Covid jab – even if paid $100 for it – in a recent survey, Gates then focused his talk on enlisting the nation's "trust network" to overcome the skeptics.
Lamenting that "vaccine hesitancy is in all countries and predates the pandemic," Gates suggested American health officials start "thinking about which voices will help reduce the hesitancy, so we can get a level of vaccination that really has a chance of stopping" the virus.
Gates provided the example of challenges the polio vaccine faced in some countries – and the cunning lengths some were willing to go to get their populations jabbed.
"In places like Nigeria we had to go to the religious leaders, talk to them, have them speak out, you know, vaccinate their children. So [it is about] understanding the trust network – who is it that you view as an expert. Very few people can look at the formulation or data directly."