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The fact is that in the United States, those who wear masks with skepticism or think it’s a political act are worse than other countries. And this is our current direction? Is it our individualistic view of things? I think it’s hard to classify. I don’t expect wearing masks to be controversial. I wouldn’t expect the administration to find something like the wildest edge and place that advice at the top of the coronavirus task force. So this thing is full of surprises. But you know people want to protect themselves. They want to protect their parents and grandparents. I hope we’re surprised at the demand for this vaccine.

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After several trials with the Covid-19 vaccine have yielded promising initial results, there is great hope that we can soon put the virus behind us. But the reality is probably much more complicated, according to DealBook experts Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has studied the urgency of developing an effective vaccine and the political, social and behavioral barriers that may prevent acceptance of the treatment, even if it is considered safe. Heidi Larson, Director of the Confidence in Vaccines Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Albert Burla, Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, joined him by videoconference.

Gates expressed his astonishment at the widespread opposition to public health measures in the United States. I don’t expect wearing masks to be controversial, he said. I don’t expect the administration to find some kind of wild fringe group.

His organization worked on the development of vaccines for the pandemic, but people were detached from these rather vague efforts. However, the attention given by the coronavirus to the work of his foundation has not always been positive. He expressed concern about conspiracy theories circulating about his financial interest in vaccine development, he said: That’s not true.

Where did this come from? Is it because it’s an uncertain time? Do people prefer an easier story? He said. I hope it goes away, because we’re just trying to play a constructive role.

Distrust is a health problem, the commissioners said. Without confidence in the vaccine and the people willing to take it, infection rates will not decrease.

But it’s important to understand the scepticism the public feels, Mrs. Larson said: We have to admit it was a hyper-recreational time. Her research showed that only about half of those questioned could take the vaccine, but there is always a chance that things will change, she added.

Trust can be fought by creating public momentum and listening to fears, she said, and that can help involve people, as she has seen in the work to eradicate polio.

There are still many unknowns about the vaccine, but fundamental questions about its efficacy and safety have been answered, Burla said. He added that he had never been personally obliged to respect the development schedule requested by Trump’s administration, although he was certainly aware of that.

Choice has always been an artificial term for us, according to Pfizer’s director. It may be important to the president, but it’s not important to us.

The only thing that seems clear to everyone in the group is that the pandemic has changed habits, maybe forever. I predict that more than 50 percent of business trips and more than 30 percent of working days will be spent abroad, Gates said of the world after the coronavirus.



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This is the worst outbreak of respiratory disease in 102 years. You can’t walk away from the data. I don’t understand why people can’t see that these are real numbers. And unfortunately we find ourselves in a situation of political division, while the health message I am trying to convey does not affect anyone’s freedom. The health message is your personal and public responsibility towards your neighbours and the rest of the country.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, spoke Tuesday with DealBook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin about coronaviruses, vaccines and the time people need to take precautions. Recent news of successful vaccination trials by Pfizer and Modena is encouraging, but the increase in cases across the country is alarming.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the DealBook online summit that a return to normality depends on two things: the effectiveness of the vaccines and the number of people taking them. He said the results of the trials with the vaccine were surprising, but was concerned that resistance to the vaccine might reduce its overall effectiveness.

Next autumn, he said, we may be quite close to a certain degree of normalisation, but he pointed out that public health measures will be needed for some time to come.

I can tell you it really depends on how we get the vast majority of people vaccinated, he said. And the vaccine will not replace public health measures until you reach a point where we no longer have a pandemic or epidemic in our country and in the world.

Dr. Fauci was against the politicization of the disease and against protective measures. The public health message I’m trying to convey does not affect a person’s freedom, he said. We must do everything we can to come together as a nation, not as separate groups whose differences affect public health.

Public health really has nothing to do with politics, he said.

We’re all together as one nation, he added. Dr. Fauci cited data on 245,000 deaths and 11 million infections: They can’t get away from the data.

He stressed the importance of the new Biden government working with the outgoing government to ensure a smooth transition. In my 35 years as a leader, I have dealt with six administrations. I’ve been through five passages. I can say that transitions are extremely important for the good continuity of everything you do, he said. We are currently in a very difficult public health situation.

As the holidays approach, an expert in infectious diseases has admitted that people have to decide for themselves what is good for them in terms of safety. Every family unit has to weigh up the risks and benefits of what it wants to do on holiday, he said.

His family will cancel the meeting and share the meal with him in a video chat. My daughters, who are professional adult women in different parts of the country, have made a decision, he said. They want to protect their father.

Dr. Fauci suggested that with effective vaccines, the time has come to intensify health measures. Some say that continued science in Europe did not prevent an increase in the number of infections, but Dr. Fauci blamed Covid’s fatigue for the increase in the number of infections in that region.

We have to use this vaccine to say there’s light at the end of the tunnel, he said. Now that we see the end, it’s time to double up and get the fatigue out of Covid.

The doctor said the pandemic was his long-standing nightmare: a respiratory infection that jumps from species to species, spreads easily and has a high mortality rate.

I saw the thing I was most afraid of, he said. Let’s get out of here, he added, before we start thinking about whether the world will remember the lessons of this pandemic.

Keep an eye on the whole session:



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There are two kinds of people when you make a mistake, a kind of people who don’t want to admit that you made a mistake, and these people try to make up all kinds of excuses and justify that you made a decision in the wrong direction. And the other group accepts and admits the mistake, and I’m that kind of guy, I’d rather accept my stupidity, and my ignorance is my, you know, bad decisions, so I can learn from my mistake.

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Masayoshi Song, founder and CEO of SoftBank, has invested billions over the years in the Chinese city of Alibaba. But as he told Andrew Ross Sorkin on Tuesday at the DealBook Online Summit, he still made a lot of mistakes.

In an extensive interview, Mr. Song not only talked about missed opportunities, but also about successes. His philosophy: I prefer to accept my stupidity and ignorance, my bad decisions, so that I can learn from my mistakes, he said. It’s better to accept them so I can be smarter.

He noted that he had the opportunity to become one of Amazon’s first investors and even talked to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, about acquiring a 30% stake in the company before it went public.

He didn’t take it. I’m so stupid! He said he had to laugh. Don’t embarrass me.

But Mr. Song also admitted that he made a big mistake with WeWork. SoftBank invested billions in joint ventures and bet that it would change the nature of its offices and raise awareness around the world – and was then forced to withdraw after its plans were made public.

We lost at WeWork, he says. It was my fault. But he noticed that the company had other successes and that investments in total had increased by at least $10 billion.

Mr. Song also expressed his admiration for Adam Neumann, former CEO of WeWork, who convinced him to invest in the company first. Even Mr. Neumann has made mistakes, Mr. Chanter said, but I am convinced that he will succeed and that he has learned a lot in his previous life.

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