Hey, do not freak out or anything, but Bill Gates thinks there's a new flu epidemic lurking around the corner and we're unprepared for it. The billionaire philanthropist warned on Friday that there was a "significant likelihood of a large and deadly modern pandemic during our lifetime."
While speaking at the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine, Gates sounded the alarm. Englisch: bio-pro.de/en/region/stern/magazine/…1/index.html
Gates, who said he was generally optimist when it comes to human progress, said the world and the United States in particular fall into "pandemic preparedness." If weapons were built that could kill 30 million people, Gates said governments would act quickly to prepare for them. There is no sense of urgency for biological threats.
This is a problem Gates has been following for some time, the topic at the Munich Security Conference 2016, the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, and a subsequent Business Insider.
He cited a simulation by the Institute for Disease Modeling to show how deadly a new flu virus might be when presented to an unprepared population, but that's far from the only warning of such a possibility. Oxford's Global Priorities Project released a 2016 report that showed that a natural pandemic combined with a nuclear war poses the greatest risk to civilization.
These threats include, above all, a variation of the natural pandemic – a deliberately constructed pandemic as it might be in a bioterrorism attack created. Advances in technologies that can help prevent the spread of viruses can also be used by nefarious groups to create new threats and combat pathogens. CRISPR, a powerful gene-crediting tool that promises much good, could facilitate such an attack by malicious actors.
"The next epidemic could arise on the computer screen of a terrorist using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the pox virus … or an extremely contagious and deadly flu epidemic," warned Gates in 2016.
 Despite Gates' continued beating of the possibility that biological threats are destroying large parts of the world's population, his message has largely fallen from deaf ears to those who have the capacity to actually do something about it.
Gates told the Washington Post that he has met Donald Trump to encourage the president to go into global health leadership on the issue of global security, just so Trump tells him he should deal with health and human officials Service Department, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
Trump's former national security adviser HR McMaster made several meetings with Gates, but was ousted and replaced by warring Lorax John Bolton, who has not yet met with Gates and probably has not much interest in saying unless it involves bombing someone.
Gates, in his view, is the effort needed to prevent a biological disaster in a manner that would appeal to Bolton and other hawks in the Trump administration. "The world must prepare in the same serious way for pandemics as it prepares for the war," said the former Microsoft chief during his speech.
While Gates said he was ready to talk to the National Security Council to tackle this problem, the problem was on all fronts. "But, you know, I think we have to push that … a bit with the executive and the congress," Gates told The Washington Post. "In this direction, no great effort has been made."
Congress has provided additional funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the recent spending bill, a small step in the right direction, after the agency had to do so by cutting its epidemic prevention activities by more than 80 percent earlier this year ,
"This could be an important first step if the White House and Congress seize the opportunity to articulate and take leadership for the US," Gates said in the speech.
While Gates waits for the Trump administration to begin taking biological threats seriously, he does his part to help wherever he can. He announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, working with Google co-founder Larry Page's family, will provide $ 12 million for the development of a universal flu vaccine that could protect against most influenza viruses. Yet, Gates noted that vaccines take time to develop and use, and people will die in the meantime if other steps are not taken.
Will the Trump administration possibly crack down on the potential loss of life that could be caused by biological threats? Given that the flu is typically the most severe in low-income communities, the best solution to the problem of making vaccines affordable and easily available is unlikely.
[Washington Post, Business Insider]