Bill Gates says that even though the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 has ‘dramatically reduced’, another pandemic might be just around the corner.
He said this at Germany’s annual Munich Security Conference in a conversation with CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. According to Gates, a potential new pandemic could originate from a different pathogen and won’t really come from the coronavirus family.
Gates however added that with the advances in medical technology, our world would definitely have a better chance of fighting. But that would only happen if investments are made now.
Gates highlighted that the worst effects have faded as a good chunk of the global population has gained some level of immunity, while its severity has also dropped with the recent and highly infective omicron variant.
He stated that in many cases it was the virus itself creating a certain immunity and in fact, it did a better job of reaching out to the global population than we have with vaccines. The chance of severe diseases that are mainly associated with the elderly or those with obesity and diabetes has also dramatically dropped thanks to the infection exposure.
Talking about the global vaccination rate, Gates stated that we were already too late to reach the World Health Organisation’s goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the global population by mid-2022. As of now, 61.9 percent of the global population has received at least one dose of the novel coronavirus vaccine.
He adds that the process of development and distribution of vaccines should move at a faster pace in the future, asking governments to invest now.
“Next time we should try and make it, instead of two years, we should make it more like six months,” Gates said while highlighting that standardised platforms, including messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, could make this happen.
“The cost of being ready for the next pandemic is not that large. It’s not like climate change. If we’re rational, yes, the next time we’ll catch it early.”