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Bill Gates thinks we should prepare for a disease that could kill 30 million people within 6 months

Bill Gates expressed his concern for pandemic preparedness on Friday at a discussion about epidemics hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gates, however, optimistically said there was progress in decreasing poverty around the world and eliminating infectious diseases like polio and malaria. There were antiviral drugs and antibiotics that had raised survival rates. Gates also announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would offer $12 million in grants to encourage the development of a universal flu vaccine. He said rapid diagnosis was getting better with the new biotechnologies like CRISPR/Cas9 but there was a lot to do on this front, exemplifying the failure to detect Ebola virus.

He felt the occurrence of pandemics was only going to rise given the emergence of new unknown pathogens that could spread like wildfire around the globe, wreaking havoc.

He raised concerns about the disease spreading rapidly due to the efficient connectivity across the world wherein people kept shuttling between countries and continents in a matter of hours, making them vulnerable.

Gates presented a simulation by the Institute for Disease Modeling that found that a new flu similar to the one that killed 50 million people in the 1918 pandemic would now most likely kill 30 million people within six months. He feared that the next disease could take us by surprise like in the case of  SARS and MERS viruses.

He also emphatically stated that the preparedness for such pandemics should be at par with the seriousness of preparedness for a war killing 30  million people.

He thought there needed to be better communication between militaries and governments and the latter needed to aid the quick development of technology to fight an unforeseen deadly disease.

Credit Source: Kevin Loria, Business Insider

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