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What just happened? Former Microsoft boss Bill Gates has some strong views on the pandemic and how it was handled. He believes the world got lucky with Covid-19 and that the virus could help us prepare for future pandemics, though it will cost around $1 billion per year.
Gates made his comments at the TIME 100 Summit this week (via Insider). The billionaire recommended the creation of a Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization (GERM) team of 3,000 infectious disease experts, managed by the World Health Organization, to help countries deal with outbreaks.
Extolling the benefits of the GERM team, Gates said, "You can't do much if you don't act quickly. Pandemics are a global problem, and if one country doesn't do its part in practicing to detect and contain, then that's a problem for all the other countries." He added that the team would have to take on responsibility for "a dozen or so countries" with limited capabilities.
The team size and its required resources mean it would cost around $1 billion per year to support, but Gates says the pandemic has cost the economy over $14 trillion, so the benefits far outweigh the costs. He notes that the world was lucky the Covid death rate was just 0.2%, warning that a future pandemic could be much more deadly.
Gates also addressed how the pandemic has been handled in the US, where more than one million people have died from the virus, more than any other country by far; only Brazil has had a higher mortality rate than the United States' 303 people per 100,000. He said if the US had scaled up its ability to perform diagnostics and enforce quarantines, the country's death rate could have been as low as places like Taiwan (3,373) or Australia (8,919).
Gates criticized the US government back in 2020 over its Coronavirus strategy, saying it did not act fast enough to prevent a shutdown. He also blasted Elon Musk for the Tesla CEO's controversial views on Covid, vaccines, and the lockdowns.
Gates discusses the GERM team and other ideas in his upcoming book, "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic."