While many experts warned for years a virus could spread around the world in a devastating pandemic, the specific strain of the virus could not be predicted. Bill Gates has previously spread the word about pandemics, having remarkably addressed the topic in a 2015 TED talk.
In a revealing speech, Mr Gates warned that the next “global catastrophe” would be caused by a virus, rather than a war.
He said: “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war – not missiles, but microbes.
“Part of the reason for this is we have invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.
“We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”
Speaking of the Ebola crisis, he stated that the response was “far slower than we should have been” as epidemiologists and experts were not prepared.
Mr Gates described the Ebola outbreak as a “global failure”.
The West African Ebola virus epidemic caused 11,323 deaths.
He then addressed the subject again in a 2017 op-ed for Business Insider, specifying that a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill tens of millions of people in a worst-case scenario.
He wrote: “Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year, he wrote.
“And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10-15 years.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged £80.34 million ($100 million) toward the fight against coronavirus with money assigned to preventive measures, treatment and responders.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph today, Mr Gates pleaded leaders to work together and take a “global approach” to tackling the pandemic.
He wrote: “The virus doesn’t care about borders,
“Even if wealthy nations succeed in slowing the disease over the next few months, Covid-19 could return if the pandemic remains severe enough elsewhere.
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“It is likely only a matter of time before one part of the planet re-infects another.”
The latest worldwide coronavirus figures show 1,844,410 confirmed cases and a death toll of 113,672.
While measures have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus, experts and governments are constantly developing new strategies to tackle the crisis.
In his latest briefing UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock unveiled a new contact tracing app for people to log their symptoms.
He said: “Today I wanted to outline the next step: a new NHS app for contact tracing.
“If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.
“All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards, and would only be used for NHS care and research, and we won’t hold it any longer than it’s needed.
“And as part of our commitment to transparency we’ll be publishing the source code, too.
“We’re already testing this app and as we do this we’re working closely with the world’s leading tech companies and renowned experts in digital safety and ethics.”
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