World Leaders ‘Should Listen’ To Bill Gates’s Warnings About Pandemics, Suggestions For Disease Outbreak Preparedness
Washington Post: When nature is a terrorist
“Bill Gates … gave a speech the other day at the Munich Security Conference that should have caught everyone’s attention. Mr. Gates insisted that world leaders think differently about public health and national security. They should listen. … [Since the anthrax attacks of 2001,] the villain that appeared to cause death and illness was not a bioterrorist, but Mother Nature, in a series of naturally occurring outbreaks: severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS; swine flu; and Ebola, among others. Each could not be stopped by existing therapeutics or vaccines, raising the question: How can nations and societies defend against such fast-moving waves of peril? … Mr. Gates insists that the pandemic threat be taken as urgently and seriously as major national security issues. … [R]ecent advances in genomics offer the prospect of vaccines that could be created on the fly. This has long been a dream of biomedicine, and Mr. Gates is right that it will need a lot more support and research to become reality. He also called for devoting more time and resources to surveillance so that disease outbreaks can be spotted sooner. Finally, he suggested preparing for epidemics ‘the way the military prepares for war,’ with exercises and training. … [Gates said,] ‘We may not know if that weapon is man-made or a product of nature. But one thing we can be almost certain of. A highly lethal global pandemic will occur in our lifetimes'” (2/23).