Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote that the Covid-19 coronavirus is beginning to behave a lot like “the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.” His comments came in a February 28 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Gates opined that we are now facing an immediate crisis. “In the past week, Covid-19 has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about,” Gates wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. “I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise.”
“There are two reasons that Covid-19 is such a threat,” Gates writes. “First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems.”
“The data so far suggest that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1%; this rate would make it many times more severe than typical seasonal influenza, putting it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%),” he stated. “Second, Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase. ”
The Microsoft founder turned philanthropist said there is strong evidence that the disease can be spread by people with mild cases or even those who are presymptomatic.
“That means Covid-19 will be much harder to contain than the Middle East respiratory syndrome or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which were spread much less efficiently and only by symptomatic people,” Gates continued. “In fact, Covid-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in a quarter of the time.”
Gates urged government officials at all levels and public health officials to take steps to slow the spread of the virus. He urged support for low- and middle-income countries that are already stretched thin.
In addition to the focus on the current health crisis, Gates said we should use this opportunity to address “larger systemic changes” to more effectively respond to future epidemics. He called for building health clinics in poorer countries and training health care workers to deliver vaccines and monitor disease patterns so that they might become part of an early warning system.
He called for a disease surveillance system that includes a case database accessible to “relevant organizations.”
Citing the cost of preparing for and combatting pandemic-level viruses, Gates called upon governments and donors to invest billions in research and manufacturing facilities to be able to create, manufacture and distribute a vaccine supply in a matter of weeks.
Finally, governments and industry will need to come to an agreement: during a pandemic, vaccines and antivirals can’t simply be sold to the highest bidder. They should be available and affordable for people who are at the heart of the outbreak and in greatest need. Not only is such distribution the right thing to do, it’s also the right strategy for short-circuiting transmission and preventing future pandemics.
These are the actions that leaders should be taking now. There is no time to waste.
Read his entire editorial at the New England College of Medicine website.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face