Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world, attended the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday. He added that at least about a billion dollars should be allocated globally as part of preventive measures and preparations for the next pandemic.
“I have to say, given the toll of this pandemic 20 million dead globally, a million in the U.S., and it could have been way more fatal. We just got lucky that the death rate per case was like 0.2%,” Gates told TIME senior correspondent Alice Park during the TIME 100 Summit in New York City on Tuesday.
“The chance of another pandemic in the next 20 years, either natural or intentional, I’d say, is over 50%,” he said. According to Gates, one of the main roles of GERM would be the obligation to conduct epidemic outbreak exercises in individual countries to check how prepared they are, writes Time.
Gates added that the next pandemic could have a much higher death rate than COVID-19.
How to prevent the next pandemic
He suggests creating a global “fire brigade” of 3,000 experts scattered around the world, recruited for skills ranging from epidemiology and genetics, through drug and vaccine development and computer modelling, to diplomacy.
This outfit, which would probably work under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, would remain on permanent standby, ready to respond to any detected outbreak.
"We've lost over $14 trillion so far for this pandemic, and there would be benefits even in non-pandemic years of looking at outbreaks, containing them in a much better way," he said.
Gates also criticized Trump
Gates also criticized the initial US pandemic response and said the Trump administration could've prevented needless death by enforcing quarantines guided by medical surveillance. He said the US in those early days had instead shown "a failure to just practice and even understand which group in the government was involved in large-scale diagnostics."