Bill Gates warns viral pandemic could happen every 20 years

‘The citizens expect the government to make it a priority’

James Crump
Saturday 11 April 2020 13:07
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Bill Gates warns that a viral outbreak similar to coronavirus could happen every 20 years

Bill Gates has warned that a viral pandemic, similar to the coronavirus outbreak, could happen every 20 years.

During a Ted Talk in 2015, Mr Gates warned that the world was not ready to tackle a global pandemic and highlighted the importance of planning.

He told the Financial Times in early April that although some governments failed to plan for the current crisis, they will be prepared for the future.

Mr Gates explained that “this is the biggest event that people will experience in their entire lives,” and said they will expect their governments to be ready for any future outbreaks.

He believes that early warning systems and antiviral libraries will be set up, but said that “the cost of doing all those things well is very small compared to what we’re going through here.”

Mr Gates added: “And so now people realise, ‘OK, there really is a meaningful probability every 20 years or so with lots of world travel that one of these [viruses] will come along.’ And so the citizens expect the government to make it a priority.”

He explained that planning for an outbreak will be beneficial for more than just a pandemic.

“It won’t cost as much as the defence budget, say, but it will be a meaningful investment. Some of those investments will help medical work in other areas,” Mr Gates said.

“A vaccine platform, cheap, fast diagnostics -- these are not things that are only valuable for an epidemic.”

The co-founder of Microsoft told the publication that he is hopeful governments around the world will be ready to tackle the next pandemic, but added: “It shouldn’t have required a many trillions of dollars loss to get there.”

Writing in The Washington Post last week, Mr Gates wrote that the US needs to form a unified approach to the pandemic.

“First, we need a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down. Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely,” he wrote.

“In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, upwards of 475,749 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 17,925.

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