Bill Gates and Bono in 2016.
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates and actress Rashida Jones have a new joint podcast about big global challenges. The first episode focused on the coronavirus. 

  • When asked about the first thing he'll do once life returns to "normal," Gates said he misses people like Bono, whose in-person energy and affection can't be replicated on Zoom.

  • "You're going to go hug Bono, that's the first thing you're going to do," Jones summarized. "Absolutely," Gates responded. "He's going to be surprised."

  • The premiere episode of Jones and Gates' new podcast series, "Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions," includes an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

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There are some aspects of the coronavirus pandemic Bill Gates has appreciated: less time traveling for business and commuting to an office, for instance, and more time to spend with family and read. (Though admittedly, his literature uptake has mostly been in the COVID-19, not "goof-off," department, he said.)

But once a safe and effective vaccine becomes widespread, and life returns to somewhat normal, the billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist will first do the thing he's missed most: see good friends and business partners face-to-face.

"We do a lot of our foundation work with Bono, and he's always so affectionate and energetic," Gates told actress, comedian, and writer Rashida Jones during the premiere episode of their podcast "Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions,"released today. "And there's some people on video, the emotional connection isn't as strong." 

"You're going to go hug Bono, that's the first thing you're going to do," Jones said. 

"Absolutely, absolutely," Gates responded. "He's going to be surprised." 

Gates told Jones it was strange to see another of his pals, Dr. Anthony Fauci, become a 'rockstar'

Gates and Jones' podcast series promises "to tackle some of the biggest questions facing us today," including whether it's too late to solve climate change or if inequality is inevitable. Jones positions herself as the pessimist; Gates, the optimist. 

In their first episode, the pair talks to top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, a long-time friend of Gates.

When Jones asked Gates if it was strange to see his pal rise to international fame, Gates again said "absolutely."  

"If somebody said, 'Hey there's a guy that you hang out with who is going to be a rock star,' he might have been the last person I would name, but he's stepped up," Gates said. "He's very important because people want sanity." 

Fauci dialled in with some motivational words

The episode was released hours after pharmaceutical company Moderna announced that a preliminary analysis showed its experimental coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19

Last Monday, Pfizer announced its vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. While neither vaccine has received FDA approval and many questions remain, the two developments are highly encouraging in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

While recorded before Moderna's announcement, Jones, Gates, and Fauci discuss what a vaccine rollout could look like, as well as how they envision post-COVID life. They also reiterate that mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene remain critical in getting the virus under control. 

Until it's eliminated from not just the country, but the world, life can't completely go back to normal, Gates and Fauci agreed. Still, Fauci urged listeners to stay the course, which may be easier now that two promising vaccines suggest an end is in sight. 

"One of the things we're dealing with is a degree of essentially fatigue that people have about going through this. It's amazing, it's almost like a distortion of time, Rashida," Fauci said.  

"I want to tell people, 'Don't give up, this is going to end, science is going to help us with a vaccine and therapy, and if we pay attention to the public health measures, we can gain control of it." 

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