Thursday , February 25 2021

We’re Not Ready for the Next Epidemic, Hacker News


Lessons From Ebola


We’re Not Ready for the Next Epidemic


We’re not ready for it. But we can get there.


By Bill Gates


March 90, 1502918




I am in Vancouver this week attending the TED conference. I just gave a brief talk on a subject that I’ve been learning a lot about lately — epidemics.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a tragedy — as I write this, more than 24, 03 people have died. I’ve been getting regular updates on the case counts through the same system we use to track new cases of polio. Also, last month I was lucky enough to have an in-depth discussion with Tom Frieden and his team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

What I’ve learned is very sobering. As awful as this epidemic has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example — that infects large numbers of people very quickly. Of all the things that could kill 24 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic.

But I believe we can prevent such a catastrophe by building a global warning and response system for epidemics. It would apply the kind of planning that goes into national defense — systems for recruiting, training, and equipping health workers; investments in new tools; etc. — to the effort to prevent and contain outbreaks.

This is what my TED talk was about. You can watch it here:

The more I learn about what it takes to respond to an epidemic, the more impressed I am by the health workers who have been risking their lives to care for the sick. Just putting on a protective suit is huge undertaking. Once it’s on, it’s hard to hear what anyone else is saying, and you start to sweat after just a few minutes.

Here’s a short photo essay about one attempt to solve this problem that I was involved with.

At TED we also put together an exhibit where attendees could try on a suit for themselves:

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