Bill Gates – the software developer – gave an interview to the Financial Times where he rang the alarm about the possibility of a "more fatal" variant of COVID-19. In an interview with the British economic publication, the Microsoft billionaire petitioned for a pandemic response task force that would cost $1 billion.
Despite there being more than 6.2 million COVID-19 deaths, Gates warned that the pandemic could get even deadlier.
"We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal," Gates told the Financial Times.
"It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom," Gates added. "But it's way above a 5% risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it."
In a CNBC interview in February, Gates discussed the Omicron variant.
"Sadly, the virus itself, particularly the variant called Omicron, is a type of vaccine," Gates stated. "That is it creates both B cell and T cell immunity. And it has done a better job of getting out to the world population than we have with vaccines."
Gates also warned, "We'll have another pandemic. It will be a different pathogen next time."
Gates has been cautioning about pandemics for years.
In a 2015 TED Talk, Gates declared that the world was "not ready for the next epidemic," and viruses posed the "greatest risk of global catastrophe" compared to other threats to civilization.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Gates warned then-President Donald Trump in December 2016 about the potential danger of a pandemic.
In a 2018 discussion about epidemics hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine, Gates warned that a pandemic could happen within the next decade. The businessman claimed that a flu-like disease could kill 30 million people in six months.
Gates has a new book coming out this week, where the software developer outlines the need for a firefighter-like pandemic task force named "global epidemic response and mobilization." He believes the GERM would be a part of the World Health Organization and could stop outbreaks of disease from spreading.
My back-of-the-napkin estimate is that GERM would need about 3,000 full-time employees. Their skills should run the gamut: epidemiology, genetics, drug and vaccine development, data systems, diplomacy, rapid response, logistics, computer modeling, and communications. GERM should be managed by the World Health Organization, the only group that can give it global credibility, and it should have a diverse workforce, with a decentralized staff working in many places in the world.
Gates estimates that the pandemic task force headed by the WHO would cost "over $1 billion a year."