Bill Gates said In any crisis, leaders have two equally important responsibilities: solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again. The CORONAVIRUS pandemic is an excellent case in point. China is seeing very few cases now because their testing and “shut down” was very effective. If a country does a good job with testing and “shut down” then within 6-10 weeks they should see very few cases and be able to open back up.
The world needs to save lives now while also improving the way we respond to outbreaks in general. The first point is more pressing, but the second has crucial long-term consequences.”out COVID-19′s current predicted fatality rate is higher than that of the 1957 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 66,000 people in the U.S.
According to Gates, COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the world because it’s far more deadly and contagious than many other deadly viruses.
“First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems,” he wrote. “Second, Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase.” World health leaders say the disease is spread by people who are mildly ill or don’t show any symptoms at all, making it harder to contain and more contagious than other types of viruses.
Our foundation is working with all the groups who make diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to make sure the right efforts are prioritized. We want to make sure all countries get access to these tools. We donated $100M in February for a variety of things and we will be doing more. One priority is to make sure that there is enough manufacturing capacity for therapeutics and vaccines. We have other efforts like our education group working to make sure the online resources for students are as helpful as they can be.
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There are over 6 different efforts going on to make a vaccine. Some use a new approach called RNA which is unproven. We will have to build lots of manufacturing for the different approaches knowing that some of them will not work. We will need literally billions of vaccines to protect the world. Vaccines require testing to make sure they are safe and effective. Some vaccines like the flu don’t for the elderly.
The first vaccines we get will go to health care workers and critical workers. This could happen before 18 months if everything goes well but we and Dr. Fauci and others are being careful not to promise this when we are not sure. The work is going at full speed.
“The long-term challenge—improving our ability to respond to outbreaks—isn’t new. Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic rivalling the speed and severity of the 1918 influenza epidemic wasn’t a matter of if but when. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed significant resources in recent years to helping the world prepare for such a scenario.”
No one could predict what the chance of a new virus emerging was. However we did know it would happen at some point either with a flu or some other respiratory virus. There was almost no funding. The creation of CEPI which was funded by our foundation, Wellcome, Norway, Japan, Germany, and the UK was a step but tiny compared to what should have happened. We prepare for possible wars and fires and now we have to have preparation for epidemics treated with the same seriousness. The good news is that our biological tools including new ways to make diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines make it possible to have a strong response system for naturally caused epidemics.
The current phase has a lot of the cases in rich countries. With the right actions including the testing and social distancing (which I call “shut down”) within 2-3 months the rich countries should have avoided high levels of infection. I worry about all the economic damage but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries and whose hospital capacity is much lower.
After January 23 when they realized how serious it was they did strong social isolation which made a huge difference. Of course that isolation created a lot of difficulties for the people involved but they were able to stop the case spread. Other countries will do it somewhat differently but a combination of testing and social isolation clearly works and that is all we have until we get a vaccine.
The TED talk I did in 2015 talked about this. We need to have the ability to scale up diagnostics, drugs and vaccines very rapidly. The technologies exist to do this well if the right investments are made. Countries can work together on this. We did create CEPI = Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation which did some work on vaccines but that needs to be funded at higher level to have the standby manufacturing capacity for the world.
Claire Evren ” How long will this go on “?
This will vary a lot by country. China is seeing very few cases now because their testing and “shut down” was very effective. If a country does a good job with testing and “shut down” then within 6-10 weeks they should see very few cases and be able to open back up.
I’ll be sharing more about COVID-19 here on the Gates Notes and on my social channels. In the meantime, stay healthy and keep washing your hands!
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