The World Wasn’t Prepared for This Pandemic. Bill Gates Says We Can Do Better

Global economic losses have been staggering due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Bill Gates, philanthropist and philanthropist, stated that if the world invested even half of the money in things such as disease surveillance, vaccine production, or better medication, then it would reduce the chance of another pandemic.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, “We lost our attention to the preparedness and we got lucky that some of the tools worked”—namely mRNA vaccines. We can’t rely on that kind of luck next time, Gates says.

In a speech he delivered Nov. 8, Gates addressed pandemic preparedness at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting. This event is dedicated to solving major challenges in global development and health. His speech called for the development of vaccines that can be used to target multiple disease types; vaccines that have thermostable properties and last longer than COVID-19; as well as shots that can deliver more doses simultaneously. Gates also stated that vaccine manufacturing and surveillance must be a priority for countries, in particular in those regions lacking the infrastructure.
[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

Gates reportedly stepped down from Microsoft’s board last year during an investigation into his past relationship with a female employee. Gates’ spokespeople have said his resignation was unrelated to that matter and that he wanted to focus on philanthropy. He co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with ex-wife Melinda French Gates.

Grand Challenges was a meeting where the Foundation promised $50 million in support of the research of scientists from low- and mid-income countries. With a special emphasis on female researchers, it pledged to fund their work. The Foundation will award grants up to $1,000,000 to fourteen African researchers.

TIME spoke to Gates in order to find out more about his future vision after the pandemic.

What was the greatest lesson from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

It’s very hard for governments to maintain capacity for things that don’t happen very often. It’s possible to accomplish this for wars. Other really terrible things are represented by small, but still powerful forms that can remind you of the potential for a much larger one. There are small fires and small earthquakes.

[Before COVID-19]There were many people who, like me, were extremely specific about what should be done. [to prevent a pandemic]This was. Very little else was done, except for funding the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. We got lucky that with mRNA technology … the very first successful vaccine was a pandemic vaccine.

Partly because these million deaths and trillions upon trillions of dollars, we encourage rich countries to make investments in new pandemic weapons. [lost], but also because we see the investment in good surveillance and in any of these tools—diagnostics, therapeutics but particularly vaccines—as incredibly helpful even before the next pandemic comes along.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has worked with COVAX, the effort to equitably supply vaccines throughout the world that hasn’t fully lived up its promise What if something similar is left behind after the pandemic?

The U.S. plays an important role in world issues, as a source of expertise and funding. The U.S. was not involved in this unusual situation. [did not originally take a leading role]This is. There was a bit more to it than that. COVAX was partly created because the U.S. lack of leadership. I don’t think we would do it the same way again.

We need to improve the surveillance part, which is a dedicated pandemic preparedness group of about 2,000 people that performs germ games, modelling, and keeps their skills sharp by constantly working on measles and malaria. Then they’re ready to work on any pandemic when there’s ever a hint of it.

While we’ve had a few recent Advancements in COVID-19 treatment, they’ve taken a long time. What is the reason for this? And how can it be fixed?

The only disease we’ve done a good job on with antivirals is HIV and that’s kind of an amazing thingIt is. Even on flu, we’ve done a terrible job. We can do broad-spectrum antivirals [that could work against multiple viruses]. It takes a combination of the academia and the private sectors to create them. These can be quickly tested.

[This time], the trials weren’t standardized. The trials were not sufficiently powered. As the burden of disease increased, it was difficult to monitor in developing countries. On the therapeutic side, we get an F.

Was there anything wrong with the testing process?

Diagnostics could be done for millions of people, but nobody thought about it. At this stage, the amount of innovation required is virtually zero. All we need is to go out and track respiratory diseases, do autopsies, sequence. My view is that surveillance and diagnostics are one thing.

You’re a A famously positive person. How can you look forward to the pandemic-preparation future?

We lost trillions of dollars because we weren’t prepared [for this pandemic]. For tens of billions of dollars … you can invest [in things like surveillance, vaccines and therapeutics]This will make it extremely unlikely that this happens again. It’s an incredible bargain that will protect rich people from pandemics, but also allow us in global health—where the inequities are so dramatic, still to this day, despite the progress we’ve made—to have tools for things like malaria eradication, TB, HIV.

The interview was lightly edited to ensure clarity and length.


Related Articles

Back to top button