Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, can predict the future. Or at least, that's what it looks like given he gave a speech at TED Talk in 2015 during which he underlined how the next big disaster to strike humanity would be due to microbes, and not a nuclear war.
Moreover, Gates stated that once this viral disaster hit populations around the world, we'd be massively underprepared for it. Unfortunately for us, he was right.
"Not missiles, but microbes"
"If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war," stated Gates in his TED Talk.
What's interesting is that Gates pointed out that globally we've invested a lot in warfare and how to handle the situation if a war were to break out. However, we've invested very little in the case that an epidemic could break out.
Gates' bold statement was bang on point when he said "We're not ready for the next epidemic."
Unfortunately for us, the world's nations don't have teams of epidemiologists ready to hit the ground running in their tens of thousands to save the Earth's population, as Gates pointed out. Comparing this to the world's armies that are at-the-ready to deploy at any given moment in case of war against other humans, we in fact have very little support if an epidemic were to break out.
This is ringing all too true as we watch the coronavirus spread around the world at lightning-fast speed, infecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide since its outbreak in late December 2019.
Even though Gates was stating how concerned we should be, as we currently are, he also pointed out the advances that exist that will help us in our fight against such outbreaks.
For instance, advances in science and technology have assisted in spreading the news quickly and internationally. Advances in biology should also dramatically change the turnaround time to look at pathogens and create drugs and vaccines to fight them.
Gates suggested that a global health crisis should be likened to how we prepare for war. He stated that there should be a global alert and response system — something that still isn't available today.
In speaking about the budget to have proper health systems in place, research and technology, and response teams ready to go, Gates believed that it would, in fact, be very modest. Much more so that if the epidemic were to break out and then dealing with the budgetary consequences as it pans out.
It's disheartening to see just how accurate Gates was back in 2015, as we watch the world scramble to keep a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. That said, as Gates mentioned, with current advances in technology and science, the world is coming together to work on the current pandemic and huge numbers of infected people are in fact recovering from the virus, as well as health systems coming closer and closer to finding a vaccine.