Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday said that the United States missed its opportunity to control the outbreak of the novel coronavirus without a shutdown, arguing that the government did not “act fast enough” to avoid this.

“We need to shut down so that the worst case that was happening in [Wuhan, China] or Northern Italy, that we avoid that,” Gates said in an interview on the TED Connects program, referring to regions hit particularly hard by the virus.

Asked about suggestions being floated in the U.S. about relaxing social distancing measures to avoid severe economic damage, Gates said that there is “no middle ground” between the virus and the cost to businesses.

“It’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is what really counts,'” Gates said, adding that a shutdown may need to remain in place for six to 10 weeks.