Billionaire Bill Gates has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over and the world might still bear witness to a variant that can be "even more transmissive and fatal." The tech mogul who founded Microsoft believes that greater investment is required to keep another pandemic at an arm's length.
Not wanting to be a "voice of doom and gloom", the billionaire philanthropist told the Financial Times that the risk of a deadlier variant surfacing is "way above 5 %". Gates had made a similar prediction in 2015 when he cautioned the world that we are not ready for the next pandemic, which in the next five years was observed in every sense as an inescapable phenomenon.
By laying more emphasis on the urgent production of long-lasting vaccines that can block the infection Gates hopes that a team of international experts, spanning from computer modelers to epidemiologists, should be created to easily and smoothly identify threats and boost international cooperation. The Microsoft co-founder has also authored a book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, which comes out Tuesday to further explain his idea in detail.
According to the Daily Mail, Gates' warning comes after Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), this week cautioned against the decline observed in overall testing and Covid-19 monitoring in several countries which increases the chances of 'resurgence of the virus'.
It goes without saying that there exists a lot of agitation and turmoil in the world today, as the situation in Eastern Europe becomes more and more complicated each day. However, Gates adjures the global leaders to also be mindful of the health crisis. "The amount of money involved is very small compared to the benefit and it will be a test: can global institutions take on new responsibilities in an excellent way , even in a time period where US-China [relations] are tough, US-Russia is extremely tough?" he added.
In his book, Gates has introduced a plan called the 'Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization initiative' and suggested that the World Health Organization should manage it, as the organization is the only body capable enough to assemble and direct a 'top-level' team of experts at a running cost of approximately $1 billion every year.
He pointed out that WHO's current funding model was 'not at all serious about pandemics' because not even ten people had been staunchly working on 'outbreak preparedness' and those too were preoccupied with other activities.
Gates' comments are believed to be in reference with the daily Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United Kingdom which recently hit a two-month low and deaths dived a sharp 40 per cent in a week, however after the removal of free testing, the Government dashboard data does not hold much reliability.
As per Sky News reports, Gates believes modern life to also be a contributing factor as, he added. "Everyone who works in infectious diseases just has this fear of human transmissible respiratory viruses. The more people travel and the stronger the interaction between wild species and humans, the more risk of zoonotic cross-species-type diseases." Sky News is a British free-to-air television news channel and organization.
More than 6.2 million deaths across the globe have been recorded since late January 2020 from coronavirus, this too happened after WHO declared the epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The most recent epidemiological update on COVID-19 by WHO was published on 27th April, it states that globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths has seen a gradual decline since the end of March 2022. But there is an increase observed in the number of cases reported from the Regions of the Americas and the African Region. An increase in number of deaths in the South-East Asia Region also along with Africa.
As of 24 April 2022, over 500 million confirmed cases and over six million deaths have been reported across the world.