(Video grab: YouTube)
Gates explained how these examples from the past should be a constant push for us to prepare ourselves for any pandemic, as we do in regard to war.
Last Updated: March 19, 2020, 7:10 PM IST
“Today the greatest risk of a global catastrophic doesn’t look like this (a nuclear war), but like this (a virus),” said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 2015.
At a time when the outbreak of the COVID-19 has gripped the world, a five year old video of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has surfaced where he predicted a pandemic affecting the humankind.
In a 2015 Ted talk titled “The next outbreak? We’re not ready”, Bill Gates talks about the outbreak of another potential virus like that of COVID-19 and stresses on the need for the world to be well-equipped to tackle the situation.
“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates says and adds, “Not missiles, but microbes.”
Citing example of the West African Ebola virus epidemic of 2014, Gates said how the virus was contained due to the effectiveness of the “heroic work” of the health workers. Also, the virus didn’t get into a lot of urban areas due to the sheer “luck” of humanity. “But next time we might not be this lucky,” Gates said then.
“The failure to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than Ebola,” he said emphasizing on the urgent need to act. Warning the audience how the situation could worsen if it’s an ‘airborne’ disease, Gates mentioned the Spanish flu of 1917, the deadliest in human history that had spread quite quickly and claimed over 3 crores lives across the world.
These lessons learnt from history should serve as the reasons why we need to prepare for an epidemic just the way we do for wars, Gates suggests.
Towards the end of the video, Gates tells the audience few key areas where we can improve to be able to prepare ourselves for any health crisis — strengthening health system, create a medical corps, pair medical and military, run germ games and not word games, step up research and development.
Gates says in the video that Ebola epidemic should be a “wake-up call” for us to enhance our facilities in the health sector.
“We need to get going because time is not on our side,” said Gates adding, “If we start now, we can be ready for the next epidemic”.
Meanwhile, the global death toll due to Coronavirus infection has gone up to 8,810, while over 2 lakh people have been infected.
According to reports, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to spare $100 million to combat the the health crisis.