Bill Gates calls for global pandemic task force
The World Health Organization is currently the only body that can create and manage a “top-notch” multi-domain team of health experts to detect, prevent and battle future pandemics, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said. The American billionaire is its top donor.
With over 6.2 million people estimated to have died from, or with, Covid-19 over the course of the pandemic, it is possible that the world has yet to see the worst, Gates warned in an interview with the Financial Times published on Sunday, just days before his new book, ‘How to Prevent the Next Pandemic’, is set to hit the shelves.
“We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,” Gates outlined. While saying he doesn’t want to be the “voice of doom and gloom,” Gates estimated the risk that “we haven’t even seen the worst” of the pandemic at “way above a 5 percent,” and emphasized the need to develop new longer-lasting vaccines.
He reiterated his call to establish a global emergency response team operating under GERM (Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization), with an annual budget of at least $1 billion. Gates said the amount of money needed for the initiative is “very small compared to the benefit,” and called it a test of world leaders’ ability to “take on new responsibilities.”
Last month, he gave a TED Talk in Vancouver to elaborate on the idea, also described in his book, saying he expects the group to consist of at least 3,000 doctors, epidemiologists, policy and communications experts, and diplomats operating under the direction of the WHO.
Gates’ book received praise from WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who fully agreed with his insistence that “we must act on Covid-19’s lessons and innovate so that we can deliver swift, equitable health solutions to prevent the next pandemic.”
While Gates is not a certified medical expert and did not finish college, his massive wealth has allowed him to effectively dominate global health policy via the Gates Foundation as the largest private contributor to the global health body, behind only the US government in terms of funding.
Gates has become a common name in discussions about Covid-19 not only thanks to the millions his foundation has poured into the development and distribution of vaccines, but also because of another TED Talk from 2015, in which the tech mogul first warned that the world was unprepared for an “inevitable” global pandemic.