Bill Gates: The Coronavirus Could Be a 'Once-in-a-Century Pathogen'
Billionaire warns of global impact of deadly virus
Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates has warned the new coronavirus could be a "once-in-a-century pathogen we've been worried about."
The billionaire said in an article for the New England Journal of Medicine:
"I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise."
"There are two reasons that Covid-19 is such a threat. First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems," Gates added.
"The data so far suggest that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1%; this rate would make it many times more severe than typical seasonal influenza, putting it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%)."
Gates gave another reason concerning the transmission of the virus.
"The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase," he said.
"There is also strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill or even presymptomatic."
Last month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would donate up to $100 million to help fight the virus.
"If some of these vaccines prove safe and effective in animal models, they could be ready for larger-scale trials as early as June," he wrote.
"Drug discovery can also be accelerated by drawing on libraries of compounds that have already been tested for safety and by applying new screening techniques, including machine learning, to identify antivirals that could be ready for large-scale clinical trials within weeks."
Gates urged governments to invest in 'disease surveillance' to allow the rapid share of information.
The billionaire's warning was also reiterated by the World Health Organization, who said the virus spread could have a global impact.
The WHO urged governments to work towards containing the virus before it becomes widespread.
Just one day after showing solidarity with #coronavirus sufferers by hugging and kissing followers while meeting with crowds, #PopeFrancis has taken ill and been forced to cancel a planned Mass in Rome.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) February 27, 2020
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Meanwhile, coronavirus fears have sent global stock markets plunging, while eating into the fortunes of the world’s elite.
The combined net worth of the world’s 500 richest plummeted by $444billion as a result of the virus.
Those suffering the biggest losses included Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and French magnate Bernard Arnault.
According to Bloomberg, their fortunes dropped by about $30billion combined.
Earlier this month, the WHO warned the coronavirus outbreak was now considered a more significant global threat to human life than terrorism.
The WHO said the coronavirus is the "worst enemy you can ever imagine" and one of the greatest threats to humanity the human race has faced.
So far, coronavirus has claimed more than 2,900 lives and struck down over 86,000 people after spreading globally.
WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, warned the outbreak could continue to spread for more than a year, and a vaccine could take at least 18 months to develop.
"To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, social, and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack. It's the worst enemy you can imagine," he said.