GREGOR PETER SCHMITZ (INTERVIEWER): You have seen many crises. Is the Covid-19 pandemic comparable to any previous one?
GEORGE SOROS: No. This is the crisis of my lifetime. Even before the pandemic hit, I realised that we were in a revolutionary moment where what would be impossible or even inconceivable in normal times had become not only possible, but probably absolutely necessary. And then came Covid-19, which has totally disrupted people’s lives and required very different behaviour. It is an unprecedented event that probably has never occurred in this combination. And it really endangers the survival of our civilisation.
Could this crisis have been prevented if governments had been better prepared?
SOROS: We have had infectious disease pandemics ever since the bubonic plague. They were quite frequent in the 19th century, and then we had the Spanish flu at the end of the First World War, which actually occurred in three waves, with the second wave being the deadliest. Millions of people died. And we have had other serious outbreaks, such as the swine flu just a decade ago. So it’s amazing how unprepared countries were for something like this.
Is that the biggest problem of the current situation – this lack of certainty about how to deal with this virus and how to proceed in the coming months or years?
SOROS: It is certainly a very big one. We are learning very fast, and we now know a lot more about the virus than we did when it emerged, but we are shooting at a moving target because the virus itself changes rapidly. It will take a long time to develop a vaccine. And even after we have developed one, we will have to learn how to change it every year, because the virus will most likely change. That’s what we do with the flu shot every year.