Health and Wellness

Bill Gates on masks: By late spring and summer 'you can look at changing your behavior in a significant way'

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.
Takaaki Iwabu | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, 65, received his second dose of the Covid vaccine a week ago, he said during an interview on social media app Clubhouse Wednesday. But even though the Microsoft co-founder is fully vaccinated, he's still following safety precautions like wearing a mask.

"I want to set a good example," Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin on Clubhouse. "If you're vaccinated, you can still transmit."

The Centers for Disease Control says that even people who are fully vaccinated for Covid need to continue to follow public health safety measures. While the vaccines in use from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been shown to be very effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid, it's not clear at this stage whether they prevent transmission.

"I'm not going to stop wearing masks or being careful, particularly around older people who haven't been vaccinated," Gates told Sorkin, who is also co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Many people have been wondering at what point we'll be able to return to normal, or at least cut back on prevention measures like social distancing and masking.

"It's only by late spring or summer that we're going to get to numbers where you can look at changing your behavior in a significant way," Gates said.

Gates said he plans to wear masks throughout the fall until infection rates drop significantly, adding that the practice "isn't some huge disastrous thing."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor, said that it's possible Americans will need to continue wearing masks through 2022, during an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. The necessity of masks is dependent upon the level of virus circulating in a community.

"If you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep coming down to a baseline that's so low that...there's a minimal, minimal threat you'll be exposed to someone who's infected," Fauci said.

While people who've been vaccinated should wear masks in public and around people from outside their household who haven't received the vaccine, it is safe for fully vaccined people to get together sans masks.

By May or June, all priority groups will be vaccinated so that young people with no underlying conditions will be eligible to get vaccinated, Fauci said during and interview with "Pod Save America" on Feb. 18.

There should be enough doses of vaccine to inoculate 300 million people by July. Then, according to Fauci, it could take through the summer to get vaccines into everyone's arms.

To check your eligibility status, you can use NBC News' plan your vaccine tool.

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