Hey, do not panic or anything, but Bill Gates thinks there's a new flu epidemic lurking just around the corner and unfortunately we're not ready for that. The billionaire philanthropist warned on Friday that there is a "significant likelihood that a large and lethal pandemic will occur in our day."
While speaking at the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine, Gates began sounding the alarm bells about a potential new flu that could wipe out up to 33 million people worldwide in just six months, according to Washington Post .
Gates, who said he is normally an optimist in terms of human progress, said the world and the United States in particular are lagging behind in "pandemic preparedness." If weapons were built that killed 30 million people, Gates said, governments would act quickly to prepare. With biological threats, there is no sense of urgency.
This is a problem that Gates has been insisting for some time, raising the issue at the Munich Security Conference in 2016, said the World Economic Forum in Davos year, and in an op-ed in Business Insider after that.
He cited a simulation from the Institute for Disease Modeling to show how lethal a new influenza virus might be when presented to an unprepared population, but that is far from being the only source of warning for such a virus. possibility. The Global Priorities Project of Oxford published a report in 2016 that showed that a natural pandemic, along with nuclear war, are the greatest risks facing civilization at this time.
Linking these threats as a primary concern is a variation of the natural pandemic, a deliberately designed pandemic, such as one that could be created in a bioterrorism attack. Advances in technologies that can be used to help prevent the spread of viruses can also be used by infamous groups to create new threats and turn weapons into pathogens. CRISPR, a powerful gene editing tool that promises a lot of good, could allow such an attack by malicious actors.
"The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen from a terrorist attempt to use genetic engineering to create a version of the smallpox virus … or a contagious and deadly strain of the flu," he warned. Gates in 2016.
Despite the continuous hammering of Gates, the possibility that biological threats destroy large numbers of the world's population, his message has fallen on deaf ears from those who have the ability to do something about.
Gates told the Washington Post that he had met with Donald Trump to encourage the president to lead the issue of global health security, only to have Trump tell him to follow up with Department of Health officials. Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
Trump's former national security adviser, HR McMaster, met several times with Gates, but was dismissed and replaced by Lorax John Bolton, who has not yet met with Gates and who probably does not have much interest in what he has to say unless it involves bombing someone.
To your credit, Gates is positioning the effort that will be required to prevent a biological disaster in a way that would attract Bolton and other hawks in the Trump administration. "The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same way it is prepared for war," said the former head of Microsoft during his speech.
While Gates said he was willing to talk to the National Security Council to address this issue, he tried to push the problem on all fronts. "But, you know, I think we have to push this … with the executive branch and Congress a bit," Gates told the Washington Post. "There was not a great effort in this regard."
Congress did allocate additional funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the recent spending bill, a small step in the right direction after the agency had cut its epidemic prevention activities in more than 80 percent earlier this year.
"This could be an important first step if the White House and Congress take the opportunity to articulate and take on a leadership role for the United States," Gates said in the speech.
While Gates expects the Trump administration to begin taking biological threats seriously, he is doing his part to help where he can. He announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the family of Google co-founder Larry Page, will make available $ 12 million in grants to develop a universal flu vaccine that could protect against most strains of influenza. Still, Gates said vaccines take time to develop and unfold, and people will die in the meantime if other measures are not taken.
Will the Trump administration eventually take action and take action against possible loss of life that could be caused by biological threats? Since flu usually affects low-income communities, the best solution to the problem is to make vaccines affordable and available, probably not.
[Washington Post, Business Insider]