The Ebola outbreak from 2014 through to 2016 should be a stark warning to humanity that a disease could pop up seemingly out of nowhere. During the Ebola outbreak, almost 12,000 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with most of the fatalities coming in West Africa. Tech billionaire Bill Gates has warned that another fatal disease could emerge on a more global scale – and there is little being done to prevent it.
The Microsoft chief said “we’re not ready” for the next epidemic at a 2015 Ted Talk, claims which have resurfaced thanks to journalist Brian Walsh’s new book End Times, which examines the existential threats to humanity.
Mr Gates said a deadly disease outbreak is a bigger threat than a nuclear war, yet little is being done to prepare.
The 63-year old said: “When I was a kid, the disaster we worried about most was a nuclear war. That’s why we had a barrel-like this down in our basement, filled with cans of food and water.
“When the nuclear attack came, we were supposed to go downstairs, hunker down, and eat out of that barrel.
“Today the greatest risk of global catastrophe doesn’t look like this. Instead, it looks like this. If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war.
“Not missiles, but microbes. Now, part of the reason for this is that we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents.
“But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”
Mr Gates went on to say that time is of the essence.
He said: “There’s no need to panic. We don’t have to hoard cans of spaghetti or go down into the basement. But we need to get going because time is not on our side.
“In fact, if there’s one positive thing that can come out of the Ebola epidemic, it’s that it can serve as an early warning, a wake-up call, to get ready. If we start now, we can be ready for the next epidemic.”
Mr Gates’ claims have been made even more prominent by the so called impending ‘antibiotic apocalypse’.
Humans, especially in the West, have become so reliant on antibiotics to help cure illnesses that many of the bacteria that they are trying to fight have become resistant to the drugs through evolution.
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Mr Walsh said in his new that humanity’s over-reliance on antibiotics since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 is now coming back to back to bite us.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explained: “Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
“Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.”
Mr Walsh continued: “Bacterial resistance to these drugs is growing by the year, a development doctors believe is one of the greatest threats to global public health.
“Thirty-three thousand people die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe alone.
“The ‘antibiotic apocalypse’ as England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, called it, puts us in danger of returning to a time when even run-of-the-mill infections could kill.”