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The Next Outbreak? We’re Not Ready: Bill Gates (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Bill Gates’ talk titled “The Next Outbreak? We’re Not Ready” at TED conference .

In this thought-provoking TED talk Bill Gates emphasizes the significant global threat posed by infectious diseases, surpassing the fears once associated with nuclear war. He highlights the lack of preparedness for epidemics, using the Ebola outbreak as a case study to illustrate the gaps in our global health system.

Gates points out that, despite the advancements in technology and medicine, the world has invested minimally in systems to prevent or manage epidemics. He stresses the need for a global health system that includes strong health infrastructure in poor countries, a medical reserve corps, and the integration of military capabilities for rapid response.

Gates also advocates for extensive research and development in vaccines and diagnostics, suggesting that such investments are modest compared to the potential economic and human costs of pandemics. He concludes with a call to action, urging for immediate preparation to mitigate the impacts of future outbreaks. Gates’ talk serves as a wake-up call, emphasizing that time is of the essence to improve our epidemic response capabilities.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

The Threat of Global Catastrophes

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.

The Lack of Epidemic Preparedness

But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic. Let’s look at Ebola. I’m sure all of you read about it in the newspaper, facing lots of tough challenges. I followed it carefully through the case analysis tools we use to track polio eradication.

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