Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates outlined an ambitious plan to stop the next pandemic, calling for a global alert system, massive testing, a cadre of 3,000 first aid specialists ready to go into action, and tens of billions of dollars in annual spending.
“To avoid a repeat of the hardships of the past year, pandemic preparedness must be taken as seriously as we take the threat of war,” Gates wrote in an annual letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released Wednesday. “The world was not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. I think next time it will be different ”.
Bill and Melinda, who oversee the Seattle-based foundation, have their sights set on the next crisis as the world struggles to curb a pathogen that has infected more than 100 million people. Countries – mainly wealthy ones – are speeding up vaccine supplies in a race to catch up on the virus.
By the time the next pandemic hits, Gates said he expects to see “mega-diagnostic platforms, which could test up to 20% of the world’s population each week.” And he noted that the global cost to defend the world seems enormous, although it does not compare with the estimated cost of 28 trillion dollars for the COVID-19 crisis. “The world needs to spend billions to save trillions”, he claimed.
The success of messenger RNA vaccines in the fight against COVID-19 should pave the way for huge advances in the next five years in the development of new vaccines, said. The technology has the potential to one day help overcome diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The Gates Foundation has invested $ 1.75 billion in the fight against COVID-19, according to its letter.
One of the most important concerns is the threat of “immune inequality”, where only the rich have access to vaccines, Melinda Gates wrote.
“Until vaccines reach the world, new groups of diseases will continue to emerge. Those groups will grow and spread. Schools and offices will be closed again. The cycle of inequality will continue ”He noted in the letter that it is signed by both.
Bill and Melinda Gates warned that as long as large swathes of the world cannot be vaccinated, it will be impossible to control the pandemic. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have urged rich nations to remember that COVID-19 anywhere is a threat everywhere,” Melinda Gates remarked in the letter. “It all depends on the world coming together to ensure that the scientific achievements of 2020 save as many lives as possible by 2021.”, he claimed.
Bill Gates also called for the creation of a “global alert system” to detect disease outbreaks as soon as they occur, as well as the use of “germ games” to help train scientists to respond first.
Melinda Gates said in an interview last year that the coronavirus reversed global advances in education, poverty eradication, vaccination and maternal and child health in a matter of weeks.
Now, the couple say they are “optimistic that the end of the beginning is near”, and that new tests, treatments and vaccines “will soon begin to bend the curve in a big way.”
“Although it is difficult to imagine right now, while so many people continue to suffer from COVID-19, this pandemic will come to an end one day. When that time comes, it will be a testament to the remarkable leaders who have emerged over the past year to lead us through this crisis. ” they wrote.
And they added: “When we say leaders, we are not only referring to political leaders and elected officials who are in charge of the official response of the Government. We are also referring to healthcare personnel enduring unimaginable trauma on the front line. To the teachers, parents, and assistants who go above and beyond to make sure children are not left behind in school. Scientists and researchers working tirelessly to stop this virus. Even neighbors who are cooking extra meals to make sure no one in their community goes hungry. “
“Your leadership will help us overcome this pandemic, and we must recover so that we are stronger and more prepared for the next challenge. In the last year, a global threat affected almost everyone on the planet. By next year, we hope that a fair and effective response to COVID-19 will have reached the entire world as well. We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during these difficult times, ”the letter concludes, signed by Bill and Melinda Gates.
(With information from Bloomberg)
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