Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates spoke at the World Economic Forum on Thursday about a likely threat in the future: bioterrorism.
In the forum, Gates warned about the possibility of using biological tools in warfare and stressed that as it stands, we are currently not equipped to handle such attacks. Whether via bioterrorism or by natural causes, he says, it would be best to be prepared for a possible epidemic spread.
Bioterrorism, Epidemics And Global Efforts
Viruses do not honor boundaries or state borders, therefore making every single country vulnerable to such threats. As such, Gates presents the warning as a global issue that needs to be tackled with unity, even with the question of funding and resources. But regardless of monetary and domestic matters, Gates stresses the importance of investing in combatting epidemics.
"It's very hard to rate the probability of bioterrorism, but the potential damage is very, very huge," said Gates.
The thoughts of widespread diseases do not easily come to mind as the modern age progresses. However, despite the advantages of technology, we have seen a fair share of the damages that the spread of an epidemic can do.
The most recent health concern that gripped many people, especially expecting mothers, with fear is the Zika Virus. Though the virus related to Dengue Fever is considered less fatal compared to its predecessor, it is the ill effects of the virus to the unborn fetus that made big news. As it stands, though no longer considered a major threat, constant vigilance against the virus is still recommended.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)
Since September 2012, 659 MERS-CoV related deaths have already been reported among the 1,879 cases. A zoonotic virus that originated from camels in the Middle East, MERS-CoV has entered the human population and has since been reported in 27 countries.
Though the Ebola Outbreak that began in 2014 is considered over by the World Health Organization, efforts are still continuous in ensuring the prevention of another spread of the disease. During the height of its spread, 28,616 cases of Ebola were recorded, 11,310 among those resulted in death.
With these diseases in mind, it's easy to see why Bill Gates warns not just private organizations but governments to prepare for the possibility of such events.
On his part, to combat and even prevent the damages that bioterrorism and epidemics pose, Bill Gates co-launched the Coalition For Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an organization currently working to prevent epidemics by creating vaccines for possible future outbreaks. With help from the German, Norway and Japanese governments as well as the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization has raised over $700 million in research fund. It is through the organization that Bill works in his endeavors concerning epidemics and public health.