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Exclusive: Bill Gates says people want to forget the pandemic but another one will hit in 20 years

videos | May 5, 2022 5:16 PM IST

Exclusive: Bill Gates says people want to forget the pandemic but another one will hit in 20 years

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Bill Gates had warned of a pandemic as early as 2014, but it largely went unheeded. Now, he is back with a new book titled "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic."

Bill Gates had warned of a pandemic as early as 2014, but the caution was largely unheeded. Speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18, Gates said the world is likely to see another pandemic in 20 years and called on world leaders to prepare.

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“People travel more, we are invading natural habitat, it is very likely that in the next 20 years we will have another pandemic. We need to have that readiness so that every country can stop the outbreak before it goes global or at least limit the deaths like the very best countries did this time around,” Gates, who has come up with a book on How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, said.
He aired his concerns that events like war could divert attention and focus, and the cycle of underinvesting in health might continue.
“People want to forget the pandemic. Even though we have some concerns about variants but it is likely that the worst of it is well behind us. There are problems in Ukraine and many other challenges in the world, so we should commit ourselves to modest investment in global teams and in research and development for new tools because we won’t go another 100 years before we have a pandemic,” Gates said.
Gates has proposed setting up a new body, Global Epidemic Response Mobilisation (GERM) team, which should be managed by the World Health Organization (WHO) because it is the only multilateral body that can give it global credibility. Gates also wants the team to be accountable to the public.
Gates estimates that an investment of $1 billion would be needed from governments to cover salaries for a GERM force of 3,000 people, equipment, travel, and other expenses. He came to the estimate from his reading on polio eradication.
"A billion dollars here is a small price to have that team. The team can do some good work even when there is no pandemic. Many people did assume that WHO had something like that," Gates said, adding even movies show WHO teams flying in in such situations.
According to Gates, movies like Outbreak nailed it when they imagined a global disease-fighting team that is ready to respond to a crisis at a moment’s notice. "A full-time team like this doesn’t exist in real life — yet. I’m hoping this changes soon because it is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the next pandemic," Gates wrote in a blog post.
He said the reason for the book was to get a broad set of people to say yes to pandemic preparedness. "This deserves to be a priority. The team would work with all countries to do drills," Gates said.
The business magnate envisages the GERM team to have a pandemic preparedness checklist, similar to the ones that pilots follow before every takeoff and many surgeons use during an operation.
Watch the video for more.
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