As the coronavirus spreads with a dangerous and relentless momentum, many Americans, including political leaders, have been shocked over how the pandemic has shut down the world economy, stretched hospitals to the breaking point, and transformed everyday living.
But Bill Gates warned five years ago that it was coming. In a TED talk in 2015, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist cited lessons learned from Western Africa’s 2014 Ebola virus crisis, and said the U.S. and other countries were not prepared for the future pandemic that was going to hit them.
“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,” Gates said. “Not missiles, but microbes.”
Gates noted that many countries worked for years to reduce the risk of nuclear war, and needed to give similar attention to a massive mobilization against a killer virus.
“We’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic,” he said, echoing warnings in recent years from infectious disease doctors. “We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”