Microsoft founder Bill Gates said he helped get President Donald Trump “super interested” in a universal flu vaccine and that the president offered him a position in his administration as the White House science adviser.
Gates said during an interview with STAT that was published Monday that he met with the president on March 15 and told him that he should associate himself with “American innovation.” The interview comes just days after the billionaire philanthropist pledged $12 million in funding the vaccine.
“Wouldn’t you love to have the universal flu vaccine be something that really got kicked off and energized by you?” Gates told STAT that he recalled asking Trump.
The vaccine could offer protection from multiple subtypes of flu.
Gates said that their talk about a universal flu vaccine prompted Trump to call up Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, during their meeting to ask about the universal flu vaccine.
“Hey, Gates says there’s a universal flu vaccine. Is that crazy?” Gates recalled the president as saying.
Gottlieb said during the call that he had heard of some good developments but wasn’t an expert and needed to look into it. Trump has not publicly advocated for a universal flu vaccine.
During the STAT interview, Gates said Trump also asked if he wanted to be science adviser after the Microsoft founder inquired about the vacancy.
“That’s not a good use of my time,” Gates says he told the president.
John Holdren, the last director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, resigned at the end of the Obama Administration.