Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates proposes using the experiences of the coronavirus pandemic to perhaps completely prevent future global disease outbreaks, but that will require investment. “Contrary to what you see in the movies, there is no group of experts ready to prevent this catastrophe,” Gates explains in a new TED Talk. If something happens so far, a team of experts will be assembled as soon as possible and then get to work. However, from Gates’ point of view, this could certainly be changed.
He, therefore, proposed establishing a Global Epidemic Response & Mobilization (GERM) unit. “This group is full-time – their only priority is the prevention of pandemic. It consists of a set of specialists with very different expertise – epidemiologists, data scientists, logistics experts – and it is not just about scientific and medical knowledge. They also need to be communicative and have diplomatic skills,” Gates outlined his idea.
However, it is not easy to put this idea into practice. Because the costs would be significant if the team was set up the way Gates envisioned. After all, he calculates that the team will consist of about 3,000 people, which would be a realistic minimum given the overall task. The financial resources would therefore amount to at least one billion dollars per year. And then the individual national authorities and organizations affiliated with the GERM team don’t count as a second tier.
Prevent major damage
On the other hand, such preventive expenditure would be a fraction of what an entire pandemic would cost. Corona has destroyed values in the global economy, making such investments seem relatively small in the end. Gates compared that to the significant annual cost of running the 370,000 full-time firefighters in the United States and running their infrastructure.
These ultimately help prevent significantly worse damage. And GERM should by no means be left in place as long as there is no threat of a pandemic. On the contrary, this team would also be in constant service and as a side effect also improve health systems worldwide more and more, so that positive measurable effects would also occur here.
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