Business magnate and philanthropist
“We’re not ready for the next pandemic.”
That was the headline of a blog post written by technology mogul and infectious disease-focused philanthropist Bill Gates, not in 2020 as the U.S. struggled to respond to COVID-19, but in March 2015, nearly five years to the day before American life shut down.
Gates had been studying the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and learning from infectious disease experts such as Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was clearly alarmed.
The Microsoft cofounder called for building an international epidemic warning and response system and concluded: “As awful as this epidemic has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example — that infects large numbers of people very quickly.”
Unfortunately, Gates turned out to be correct. The U.S. was not ready for a deadly pandemic such as COVID-19. And the onetime lead software architect is clearly not pleased the country’s leadership failed to follow his designs for fighting such a disease, calling the lack of rapid-response testing “outrageous” and expressing disappointment with the CDC and the Trump administration.
Gates is also putting his money where his mouth is, with his foundation donating significant sums of money toward vaccines and urging government officials to follow his advice, even as he’s become the target of crazy conspiracy theories.
We hope the world will listen to Gates’ warning this time.