According to Bill Gates, everyone must get ready for the upcoming pandemic in the same way they would for any other disaster.
“We need a fire department for pandemics,” he writes in a NYT op-ed published Sunday.
“The world hasn’t done as much to get ready for the next pandemic as I’d hoped,” he continues. “But it’s not too late to stop history from repeating itself.”
Gates says he is enthusiastic about the World Health Organization’s launch of a Global Health Emergency Corps, despite his concerns. The corps may “jump into action at a moment’s notice when danger develops,” according to Gates.
The ability to execute comprehensive worldwide testing, preemptive sewage testing, and seamless cooperation with governments throughout the world, he adds, are some of the ways he sees this team succeeding. They also regularly practice drills for various potential emergent infections.
According to research that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 38% of people are likely to experience a pandemic with effects similar to those of COVID-19 in their lifetime.
The authors note that proportion may increase by twofold in the ensuing years.
“We need to prepare to fight disease outbreaks just as we prepare to fight fires,” Gates, who authored How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, writes. “If a fire is left to burn out of control, it poses a threat not only to one home but to an entire community. The same is true for infectious diseases, except on a much bigger scale.”
Gates emphasizes the serious cost of the COVID-19 pandemic—and how the loss of human life, the ongoing health complications people experience, as well as the economic toll, can be prevented in the future if priorities are set—and how the Gates Foundation and Melinda Gates have committed $2 billion toward the COVID-19 response since the start of the pandemic.
According to Gates, the emergency team has to be well funded and run by public health experts in order to be better prepared for the upcoming epidemic.
He thinks that relying simply on volunteers won’t be sufficient to respond quickly when a pandemic threat materializes.
“Local responders need to know they can count on a surge of well-trained firefighters who will work seamlessly together,” Gates writes.
“They can’t arrive on the scene only to discover that their hoses don’t fit on the closest hydrant or that they have a completely different approach from the other units.”
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