SEATTLE--Bill Gates thought that coming up with vaccines would be the hard part and that delivering vaccines would be the easy part.
It turns out they are both hard.
That's one of the lessons that Gates tells CNET he has learned in his new role as full-time philanthropist. In travels to Africa, he saw firsthand the challenges of delivering vaccines, many of which have to be kept cold to be effective and are needed in places with no refrigeration.
"We were a bit naive about that, particularly getting new vaccines adopted by countries," Gates said in an interview with CNET's Ina Fried last week. "It had been so long since they had done it, I just assumed they would look at the numbers, it would be a very straightforward process. Well, the process doesn't even exist."
Plus, he said, "The cold chain is more messed up than I expected."
In the interview, which was done in conjunction with the release of the annual letter (PDF) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates talked about other surprises he encountered in his travels, including the fact that one of the ways to reduce the spread of AIDS in Africa is to promote adult circumcision--something that he wasn't sure would be feasible.
"Male circumcision--which I thought wouldn't be a big effect because I didn't think adults would be that interested in it--it looks like that's really going to help slow the disease," Gates said.
Gates also talked about his recent foray into Twitter and the launch of his Gates Notes Web site.
"The Internet is tailor-made for the kind of activities I'm involved in," Gates said. "When I take a trip, we have all these photos. And there were things that were fun and exciting, and people want to see that. It's very easy to put it up there...I think it's going to be a lot of fun to be sharing on an ongoing basis, and people who are interested in a particular topic can just find that piece and go after that." … Read more