Bill Gates, the philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, warned that there is a significant risk that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to unfold. He also warned that the virus, which has killed 6.24 million people so far, could produce an ‘even more transmissive and even more fatal’ variant. In 2015, Mr Gates warned of an inevitable pandemic in the future, noting that the world was not ready to handle it.
Speaking to the Financial Times, he said: “We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,
“It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5 per cent risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it.”
Speaking to PBS last week, he said: “We certainly can’t say the pandemic is over. It is not over.”
Mr Gates’ warnings come as Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), urged people to continue being wary of the virus.
He also added that the decreases in testing for the coronavirus around the world have created a risk of a new resurgence of the virus.
Mr Gates also warned that greater investment is needed to avoid another pandemic.
The billionaire, whose latest book titled How to Prevent the Next Pandemic is set to release on Tuesday, has called for governments of the world to create an international team of epidemiologists and computer modellers to help quickly identify global health concerns.
He said that this team, which is called Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization initiative (GERM) would be managed by the World Health Organisation.
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He noted that while it would cost around $1 billion (nearly £8 billion) to run the team, the amount would be minor compared to the benefits it could provide.
He said: “The amount of money involved is very small compared to the benefit and it will be a test: can global institutions take on new responsibilities in an excellent way, even in a time period where US-China [relations are] tough, US-Russia is extremely tough?”
He slammed the lack of preparedness from the WHO, noting that the body had “less than 10 full-time people” working on outbreak preparedness with even those experts being “distracted with many other activities”.
He added: “The current WHO funding is not at all serious about pandemics.”
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The billionaire philanthropist also expressed disappointment at the UK for cutting foreign aid funding, warning that it could cause global health crises.
Last year, the UK Government slashed its foreign aid funding from 0.7 percent, to 0.5 percent.
Mr Gates said: “We’re down to the bare minimum, and if the UK cuts more, then others will do as well.
“That would be tragic because . . . all that money saves lives for less than $1,000 per life saved.”