COVID deaths could drop to seasonal flu levels in 2022, Bill Gates says

Bill Gates, the philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, said at a conference in Singapore on Thursday that he believes the number of cases and those dying from COVID-19 will be dropping "pretty dramatically" as more people get vaccinated and new treatments become available. 

In an interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, the billionaire said both deaths and infections could reach seasonal flu levels by the middle of 2022 unless a new variant emerges, according to Bloomberg

Gates pointed to several reasons: more people will develop natural immunity, vaccines will be distributed more widely, and new antiviral pills will become available. 

Pfizer recently announced that its experimental antiviral pill cuts hospitalizations and death rates by nearly 90%. Pfizer said it would grant a license for the antiviral pill to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, which would let generic drug companies produce the pill for use in 95 countries, making up about 53% of the world's population. 

RELATED: Pfizer says COVID-19 pill cut hospital, death risk by nearly 90%

Health officials said because the deal was struck even before Pfizer's pill has been authorized anywhere could help to end the pandemic quicker.

"The vaccines are very good news, and the supply constraints will be largely solved as we get out in the middle of next year, and so we'll be limited by the logistics and the demand," Gates said, according to Bloomberg.

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The World Health Organization estimates that about 290,000 to 650,000 people die from the flu each year. 

More than 5 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late 2019.

Read more at The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(FOX File)