Bill Gates was interviewed in 2015 by Vox, Gates Microsoft co-founder spoke about his fears of a global pandemic that arises once in a century. “I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise,” Gates wrote in an article that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to Gates, we need to scale up diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines that can be done right with the right investments and technologies.
Gates mentioned that this pandemic can kill people who have pre-existing medical conditions as well as others who are comparatively healthy. Also, unlike the other pandemics caused we have faced until now, this disease is transmitted quite efficiently and will increase exponential rates. Accordingly, to world health leaders, this disease can be spread by people who are mildly ill or don’t show any symptoms at all, making it more contagious and more difficult to control when compared to any other type of virus.
Gates had warned that the world wasn't prepared for an infectious disease outbreak of this scale. He had made similar remarks on the Ebola outbreak, which was declared a public health emergency of international concern by WHO. His foundation similarly donated millions of dollars to combat that disease.
Three things we learned from Bill Gates’s latest Interview are:
Gates added that South Korea and Taiwan have done a great job with the testing machines and PCR test kits with their past experience (with SARS) that accurately gives the information before the symptoms arise. And South Korea maintained the digital contact tracking of its people to keep this pandemic in control, which gives us an example that it's each individual’s responsibility to keep this pandemic in control - not just the health workers or the government.
Test! Test! Test!
Bill Gates says that Testing for the virus informs all the subsequent decisions regarding treatment protocol and the need for social isolation. Priority should be given to those who are in need of getting tested - with first priority for the elderly, followed by people with severe symptoms with 12 hours of registering for the test. Self-isolation until the results are mandatory. There is an additional layer of complexity for developing nations with growing populations, resulting from a lack of resources, physical distancing challenges, etc. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working on developing potential vaccines, which would take another 18 months, added Gates.
The downfall of Economy-not permanent
Gates says “I worry about all the economic damage, but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries, and whose hospital capacity is much lower. But death can’t be reversed, like the economy. Normalcy only returns when we vaccinate the global population.”
The only way we can get through this unprecedented situation is by depending on Science. As healthcare workers tirelessly and heroically stand at the front lines of the pandemic, and Governments come together to share information and resources, we can only hope and offer our support to them to get through this together.