Bill Gates warns that the next pandemic could be the product of a bioterrorist attack

MEXICO CITY (appro). – It should not be assumed that the next pandemic will be like the current one. It may affect young people more and spread on surfaces or may even be the product of a bioterrorist attack, so plans must be devised to deal with it, Microsoft owner Bill Gates wrote in a preview of his upcoming book ‘Ideas ‘.

In the writing he did for El País, entitled “Let’s prevent the next pandemic while we still remember the horror experienced”, he trusted that “with some luck”, covid-19 will be treated as an endemic disease, just like the seasonal flu .

But he did not rule out that “it could even be designed by human beings”, because despite the fact that the world plan should focus on protecting the population from natural pathogens, governments would have to take very seriously the possibility of collaborating with the in order to prepare for a bioterrorist attack.

Much of this plan is about taking steps that we should be taking anyway, like improving disease surveillance, as well as preparing to design treatments and vaccines more quickly,” he said.

He considered that military authorities should collaborate with health experts to design policies, shape the research agenda and carry out simulations of diseases in which the pathogen is capable of killing millions or even billions of people.

“Regardless of how the next big outbreak unfolds, the key is to have better plans than we have today and tools that can be used quickly. Fortunately, good systems have been implemented to allow the development of these tools.

“The US, European and Chinese governments are funding early-stage experimental research and supporting product development. India, Indonesia and other emerging countries are also taking steps in this direction. Biotech and pharmaceutical companies have big budgets to get ideas out of the lab and into the market,” he stated.

For now, and regardless of whether, in this pandemic, covid-19 aggressively remits or returns, governments must strive to achieve a different long-term goal: prevent the next pandemic.

He recalled that, for decades, there were people who warned the world that it should prepare for a pandemic, but practically nobody took it as a priority.

“Then covid-19 hit us and stopping it became the most important issue on the global agenda. What worries me now is that if covid-19 subsides, the world will turn its attention to other problems, and pandemic prevention will once again take a backseat or even none at all.

“We must take action now, while all of us still remember how horrible this pandemic has been and feel the need that another one must never be allowed to arise,” he asked.

Even so, he considered that after having lived through this experience, it should not be assumed that the next pandemic threat will be exactly like covid-19.

“Maybe it affects the young more than the old, or maybe it also spreads by sticking to surfaces or through human feces. It may be more contagious and spread more easily from one person to another. Or maybe it’s more lethal. Or, worse, it could be both more lethal and contagious,” she speculated.

He warned that most countries lack a national plan to finance the best scientific ideas.

“It has to be clear who is in charge of the pandemic plan, you have to control its progress, test ideas, implement the most successful ones and make sure that they end up being products that can be manufactured in mass quantities quickly,” he said.

He stressed that, without a plan in place, when the next big outbreak occurs, the government will have to act in a reactive manner and it will be too late, since they will have to try to draw up a plan when the pandemic is already spreading, and that will not be the way to protect people.

“Compare this situation to the way governments deal with national defense, where you know exactly who is responsible for assessing threats, developing new capabilities and carrying out their implementation. We need outbreak strategies that are as clear, rigorous and comprehensive as the best military strategy in the world,” he said.

He asked not to forget that all this additional effort to prevent pandemics has another enormous advantage: we will also be able to eradicate entire families of respiratory viruses; among them, coronaviruses and the flu, diseases that cause tremendous suffering.

“The economic impact and the number of human lives saved that this would have would be incredible throughout the world,” he mentioned.

He also recalled that almost 2 and a half years after the appearance of the new coronavirus that has killed 6 million people in the world, “tragically, the pandemic has not ended.”

He pointed out that from that time to date, more than 500 million cases of covid-19 have been reported, the losses of the global economy are expected to exceed 14 trillion dollars and a more dangerous variant may emerge, one that spreads more easily cause more severe symptoms or evade immunity better than previous variants.

“If vaccines and natural immunity do not prevent a high rate of deaths from such a variant, the world will have a very serious problem,” he considered.

For this reason, he commented that national governments, academic researchers and the private sector will have to continue to make great efforts to obtain new or improved tools that protect humans against the worst consequences of covid-19 if the threat evolves.

“Governments must protect their citizens, using strategies that take into account the fact that each place has its own idiosyncrasies regarding covid-19. The ability of new waves of covid-19 to spread through the population depends very much on the number of people who have been vaccinated, infected, both or neither, ”he assured.

He asked that health authorities adapt their strategies based on what the data indicates so that they can be more effective in the areas where they are working.

“In addition to all this, governments must do even more to provide better information on the incidence of covid-19. Often, especially in developing countries, data about covid-19 comes from little clinical evidence and outdated data obtained through simple surveys carried out among particular populations, such as healthcare providers and donors of blood.

“With the help of ongoing disease surveillance, countries can gain crucial insights; among them, what will be the most effective ways to use non-pharmacological interventions while accelerating economic recovery, ”he added.

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Bill Gates warns that the next pandemic could be the product of a bioterrorist attack