Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Bill Gates said bioterrorism was one of the biggest threats humanity faces in the coming years. He said the world should start investing in health infrastructure to be ready for epidemics in the future.
The founder of Microsoft placed genetically engineered pathogens among the top three threats looming in the horizon nowadays. A global pandemic is right up there with climate change effects and nuclear war according to the executive.
The billionaire has had an impact in over a 100 million people living in harsh conditions through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates told the audience in Munich that a new virus strain could kill tens of millions in the next 15 years.
Under-developed countries have the perfect conditions for an outbreak to take place
The Munich Security Conference is a stage to share insights and discuss views on international security policy. Naturally, not the first place people would think to find Bill Gates speaking at.
The richest man in the world did not imagine it either when he started a foundation along with his wife nearly twenty years ago. Their endeavors to provide healthcare around the world led him to speak about a looming threat in the German capital over the weekend.
Gates pointed out conflict zones and less-developed countries were not only the hardest places to eradicate diseases but also great environments for them to be born. Terrorist groups could be working on new virus strains as you read this article.
This situation puts bio-terrorism on the table as a real issue to tackle from an international security policy perspective. Microsoft’s founder insists that we have ignored this existing link, and put ourselves at risk by not taking the necessary measures.
What can the world do to prepare for a global pandemic?
Luckily there are plenty of things we can do to get ready for such a threat, and Bill Gates himself has started by launching the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
The idea is that this private-public organization fosters new approaches to preemptive medicine across the world. One of the main objectives is accelerating the model for developing, licensing, and releasing new vaccines.
Currently, this process can take as much as a decade for new solutions, but scientists and epidemiologists agree humanity needs to increase production speed dramatically in the face of new, unknown threats. To contain such airborne pathogens, experts say a three-month window would be ideal as a standard.
However, developing vaccines in the fast lane is worthless if most countries don’t even have the necessary infrastructure to control a major epidemic. That refers not only to hospitals, but also roads, telecommunications, and military aid.
Bill Gates further believes in preparing for pandemics the way nations prepare for armed conflict and war, engaging in simulations and exercises from which they can discover new tactics to best tackle the situation.
The losses significantly exceed the costs of preventing bioterrorism
“THE IRONY IS THAT THE COST OF ENSURING ADEQUATE PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS WORLDWIDE IS ESTIMATED AT $3.4 BILLION A YEAR- YET THE PROJECTED ANNUAL LOSS COULD RUN AS HIGH AS $570 BILLION,” Gates said.
Experts believe a new pandemic could hit the world in the next 10 to 15 years, taking away as many as 30 million people in less than a year. For this reason, the philanthropist considers bioterrorism to be on pair with climate change and nuclear war.
The former head of Microsoft ended his intervention on a high note, though, saying the next global epidemic could be a chance for humanity to show how we can fight great threats instead of falling victims of catastrophe once again.
Source: Business Insider