Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says the world is entering “uncharted territory” because it was not prepared for a pandemic such as COVID-19.
The tech billionaire and philanthropist told the BBC that governments across the globe should have invested more in preparing for the international health crisis.
“Were the tests prepared?
“Did countries think through getting their ICU and ventilator capacity up?”
Mr Gates has been warning about the risk of a pandemic disease for years and has spent millions funding possible vaccines for the coronavirus.
He told BBC Breakfast on Sunday countries had not invested enough in essential medical equipment and research.
“Well, there was a period when I and other health experts were saying that this was the greatest potential downfall the world faced,” Mr Gates said.
“So we definitely will look back and wish we had invested more, so that we could quickly have all the diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines.
Mr Gates, 67, has devoted much of his time in recent years studying and funding global health efforts to address inequality through the charity he runs with his wife.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed up to $100 million to help the global response to the pandemic as well as an additional $5 million for his home state of Washington.
Mr Gates has become an outspoken supporter of preparing the world for a pandemic before it strikes.
In 2015, discussing the Ebola outbreak in Africa at a Ted Talk, he urged the world to prepare for another mass outbreak.
Earlier this month, in an interview with the Financial Times, he said that COVID-19 was the “biggest event that people will experience in their entire lives” and governments and policymakers have “paid many trillions of dollars more than we might have had to if we’d been properly ready”.
But he was also confident that lessons learned from this pandemic would encourage world leaders to better prepare for next time.
And in an in an Ask-Me-Anything Q&A on Reddit earlier this year he pointed to the success of some nations in containing the virus but lamented the US response.
Mr Gates pointed to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore as examples of countries who had successfully contained the virus.
He identified targeted, fast testing and effective social distancing measures as the two key factors which will determine the severity of each nation’s outcome.
Mr Gates was also critical of the US approach to testing, saying it unfairly disadvantaged the most vulnerable.
He proposed creating a national database, which would track confirmed cases and predict potential outbreaks – an approach taken up by South Korea.
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