Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates predicted a global pandemic would kill many people and grind the world economy to a halt in a 2015 TED Talk.
As world governments struggle to grapple with the rapidly spreading coronavirus, Gates warned years ago that humanity was ill-prepared for a fast-spreading, life-threatening pathogen.
With over 236,000 infections and more than 9,700 deaths, the epidemic has stunned the world and drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu.
In 2015, Gates told a TED Talk that if the wealthiest nations had prepared for a pandemic with the same urgency that they prepared for nuclear war, this could have been avoided.
'If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,' Gates said at the time.
'Not missiles, but microbes.'
Gates said that the prospect of a global pandemic was overlooked by governments, even after recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus.
Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Gates said that the world was lucky that the Ebola outbreak was limited to West Africa.
Ebola, unlike coronavirus, renders those carrying it as too ill and weak to walk around and infect others.
Gates also chalked it up to sheer luck that Ebola didn't spread into urban areas.
'Next time, we might not be so lucky,' the multi-billionaire philanthropist said.
Gates urged Western governments to view pandemics the same way they view military threats.
He noted that while countries run drills known as 'war games' to prepare for future military conflict, it should also run simulations known as 'germ games' to be better prepared for widespread illness.
Gates warned: 'We've invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we've invested very little in a system to stop epidemics. We are not ready for the next epidemic.'
In his lecture, Gates called for beefing up health systems in poor countries and embedding medical staff with the military in order to enable more rapid deployment of teams to deal with pandemics.
Last year, Gates, who since stepping down as CEO of Microsoft has devoted his energies to helping eradicate disease in the developing world, also warned of a coming pandemic.
In a 2019 Netflix documentary, Gates predicted a killer virus could originate in China's wet markets to rapidly infect the world .
Source : DailyMail