Tags: bill gates | epidemic | vulnerable

Bill Gates: Epidemic Soon 'Would Be a Tragedy' Because We're Not Ready

Image: Bill Gates: Epidemic Soon 'Would Be a Tragedy' Because We're Not Ready

Philanthropist Bill Gates speaks at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2016 in central London on Oct. 26, 2016. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 30 Dec 2016 03:20 PM

Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates fears a deadly epidemic could threaten the entire world if research and treatment doesn’t improve soon.

Although the recent Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks were eventually controlled, the response showed vulnerabilities in the global healthcare system.

The development of drugs and vaccines wasn’t quick enough, Gates told BBC 4 Radio, adding that the World Health Organization was not funded or staffed effectively to meet the challenges of the 2014 Ebola epidemic that led to thousands of deaths in west Africa.

“I cross my fingers all the time that some epidemic like a big flu doesn’t come along in the next 10 years,” he said.

Gates funded an algorithmic model that revealed how fast a disease such as the Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million people in 1918-19, would spread throughout the world today.

“Within 60 days it’s basically in all urban centers around the entire globe,” he told Vox last year. That would be faster than the spread of the Spanish flu because of increased traffic with a significantly improved transportation industry and more people traveling across borders.

More attention needs to be paid to developing new treatments that can deal with possible epidemics, Gates said.

Researchers are also facing a growing antimicrobial resistance to drugs, which has hampered medical efforts to treat such diseases as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis in recent years.

Gates told BBC Radio he believes a complacency has resulted from the successful treatment from antibiotics in the past. However, misuse and overuse of antibiotics have led to the body’s resistance to the drugs in many cases, leading to concerns about an epidemic.

Gates remains optimistic thanks to today’s medical and technological advances. He hopes the eradication of polio could occur by next year; it would be only the second human disease to be wiped out since smallpox in 1980.

"I do think we’ll have much better medical tools, much better response, but we are a bit vulnerable right now if something that spread very quickly, like say a flu that was quite fatal," he told the BBC. "That would be a tragedy."

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Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates fears a deadly epidemic could threaten the entire world if research and treatment doesn't improve soon.
bill gates, epidemic, vulnerable
360
2016-20-30
Friday, 30 Dec 2016 03:20 PM
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