Bill Gates fears that the world is yet to see iet worst then COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill Gates on Covid: ‘I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom,’ but ‘the worst’ could still be ahead
While the official global death toll from COVID-19 is about 6.3 million, experts estimate that the real number of deaths is much higher. In May, the World Health Organization estimated that there were about 14.9 million excess deaths associated with the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Gates warned that we should not count on similar lucky during the next global pandemic. Considering how destabilizing the COVID-19 pandemic has been, if another virus emerges with similar virulence but a much higher fatality rate—say, 5%— it could be “society ending,” Gates said.
And Gates believes there may very well be a next time for many people alive today. “The chance of another pandemic in the next 20 years, either natural or intentional, I’d say, is over 50%,” he said.
Such a warning is especially disturbing coming from a person like Gates, who has spent more than two decades fighting humanity’s greatest threats through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In that time, Gates has built a reputation as one of the world’s greatest optimists when it comes to the ability of science to change the world. And his investments into have helped save countless lives, including by accelerating the distribution of vaccines for diseases like pneumococcus and rotavirus, funding the distribution of tools like bed nets to limit the spread of malaria, and investing in research, including for malaria vaccines.
Bill Gates famously warned about the risk of a pandemic in 2015, and in 2021 he offers ideas on vaccines and preparing for the next pandemic. Gates stresses that spending in advance is actually quite a “bargain” compared to the cost of reacting to a pandemic once it ravages the world and cripples the economy. Gates also discusses tech regulations, attacks on him and Dr. Fauci, systemic racism, tax policy and his reaction to being cited in so many rap songs, in this debut of The Summit Series, a collection of in-depth interviews with leaders at the summit of their fields by MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
About The Beat with Ari Melber: Lawyer Ari Melber leads this show that provides in-depth analysis of the day’s biggest news stories. “The Beat” features guest interviews in addition to reporting on stories from across the country. The stories that are covered span across the political spectrum. In addition to his law background, Melber is a former Senate staffer, giving him a unique perspective to share on the political happenings coming out of Washington, D.C.
Though Gates has not been shy to raise the alarm when the world is in danger—such as, in 2015, when he warned that the world wasn’t ready for a viral outbreak, he isn’t a doomsayer. In fact, he’s repeatedly argued that pandemics aren’t inevitable. Indeed, his latest book is titled How to Prevent the Next Pandemic. As Gates explained in his interview with TIME, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique opportunity to prevent another pandemic from ever happening again—but only if the world is willing to make key investments.
Specifically that means improving technology, including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; building up health systems; and improving global monitoring of diseases. In his interview with TIME, Gates emphasized that these changes are necessary in both wealthy and poor countries, to ensure that scientists everywhere have the resources they need to raise red flags about bourgeoning outbreaks, and to get them under control within just 100 days, a key window during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gates said, before the virus began to spread exponentially.
To improve global disease monitoring, Gates argues for the creation of what he calls a “Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization” team, which would be comprised of 3,000 infectious disease experts and would be managed by the World Health Organization. Among other activities, the group would help to lead disease-outbreak drills in countries to test their preparedness.
Relying on the shared knowledge of the world’s foremost experts and on his own experience of combating fatal diseases through the Gates Foundation, he first helps us understand the science of infectious diseases. Then he shows us how the nations of the world, working in conjunction with one another and with the private sector, can not only ward off another COVID-like catastrophe but also eliminate all respiratory diseases, including the flu.
Here is a clarion call—strong, comprehensive, and of the gravest importance—from one of our greatest and most effective thinkers and activists.
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