Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft answers questions about his prophetic video and coronavirus
The founder of Microsoft and the world's largest philanthropist in global health gave a talk in 2015 that has gone viral in recent days. In it, he warned that the greatest threat to humanity was not a missile or a nuclear bomb, but a microbe that could cause an infectious disease. Gates connected to the Reddit social network a few days ago to respond to Internet users. Gates received thousands of questions, of which he selected 31. He was accompanied by Dr. Trevor Mundel, who directs the global health work of the Gates Foundation, and Dr. Niranjan Bose, its chief scientific advisor.
In the conversation, he referred to his talk and affirmed that the signs that a pandemic like the one the planet is experiencing today could have been ignored for a long time: "Nobody could predict what was the possibility of a new virus emerging. However, we knew it would happen sometime with the flu or some other respiratory virus and there has been almost no funding. "
He added: "We need to be able to carry out diagnostics, medicines and vaccines very quickly. The technologies to do it well exist if the right investments are made. Countries can work together on this. We created CEPI (Coalition for Innovation and Epidemic Preparedness) that focuses on vaccines, but this agency needs more funding to have the manufacturing capacity the world needs. "
Together with his wife Melinda, Gates presides over a namesake foundation and has become the largest private donor for research and development projects related to global health and neglected diseases, as well as gender equality, poverty and education, among other issues. Every year they allocate around 5 billion dollars a year to finance initiatives in more than 150 countries. Just two weeks ago, Bill Gates announced that he was leaving Microsoft's board of directors.
The foundation has not missed the opportunity to get involved in the fight against the coronavirus. The Gates recently launched the Covid-19 Therapeutic Accelerator. It is a coordination mechanism in which they work collaboratively with the Wellcome Trust, the other major global health philanthropic organization. Companies such as Mastercard participate in the donor fund and 50 pharmaceutical companies have just been incorporated, including the largest in the world, such as Novartis and Pfizer. The objective is to coordinate forces in the search for effective treatments against Covid-19 and in the future against other infectious diseases, and one of the objectives is that these advances also reach the most disadvantaged countries.
"A drug could be available much sooner than a vaccine - it is estimated that there will not be one before a year and a half." A drug would reduce the number of people who need intensive care, including respirators. The Accelerator will serve to analyze all the ideas more promising and match the capabilities of the industry. So I hope something comes out of this. It could be an antiviral or antibodies or something else, "Gates said. The philanthropist advanced some of the lines of work: "An idea that is being explored is using the blood (plasma) of people who are recovering. This can have antibodies to protect people. If it works, it would be the fastest way to protect healthcare workers and seriously ill patients. "
Gates expressed himself in the same sense as many other scientists these days: "We prepare for possible wars and fires and now we must prepare for epidemics with the same vigor. The good news is that our biological tools, which include new ways of making diagnoses , therapies and vaccines, allow us to have a solid response system. "
Although the countries currently most affected are Spain, Italy and the United States - which has just surpassed China in number of infections -, Gates stressed that one of his major concerns is the countries with the weakest health systems.