Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates mentioned that an epidemic outbreak like the current coronavirus one would most likely be the "biggest event that people will experience in their entire lives," and cautioned that a viral outbreak of this magnitude would potentially happen "every 20 years or so."
In an interview with the Financial Times (FT) on April 2, Gates discussed his insights and thoughts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The transcript of the interview was posted online by the FT on April 8th.
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Bill Gates has an eye for viral epidemics
This isn't the first time that Gates speaks up about a viral outbreak. Back in 2015, he gave a TED Talk in which he warned the world that the next big disaster to shake our planet would be on a microbial level. Gates' accuracy was chilling.
Now, Gates is back on stage — hypothetically speaking — and explaining how policymakers and world leaders would not have had to have "paid many trillions of dollars more than we might have had to if we'd been properly ready."
"This is the biggest event that people will experience in their entire lives," said Gates in his FT interview.
In the first of an FT video interview series on the impact of the pandemic, Bill Gates speaks about how countries need to tackle the pandemic — and how to prevent the world from being caught off guard by another. Read more here: https://t.co/gbvtBj0eJ8pic.twitter.com/RdvQX5BnN7— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) April 9, 2020
However, Gates did also highlight how much better prepared the world would be when — not if — another outbreak would happen. "Standby diagnostics, deep antiviral libraries, and early warning systems," would all be at-the-ready in post-coronavirus times.
Ultimately "The cost of doing all those things well is very small compared to what we're going through here," he said. "And so now people realize, '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."
Ever the optimist, Gates is certain that we will learn lessons from this outbreak and be encouraged to prepare better for the next round, however unfortunate it is that we're having to pay the cost so highly on multiple levels this time around.
Gates is doing his part during the coronavirus outbreak, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $100 million to be used towards vaccine research, frontline responders, for preventative measures, and treatment efforts around the world.
Companies and individuals around the world are collaborating and sharing information in order to overcome the coronavirus outbreak, have a look at what some of the projects are here.