Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist whose foundation has focused on efforts to fight the coronavirus, is planning a May 3 release of a book on how to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is the last great global plague.
“Whenever I see the suffering that COVID has created — every time I read about the latest death toll or hear about someone who lost their job or drive by a school that is closed — I can’t help but think: We don’t have to do this again,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the publication of “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic.”
The book will cover lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as tools and innovations needed to save lives and stop pathogens early. It will discuss his views on vaccines and on what it has felt like to become the target of conspiracy theories.
In January 2021, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder outlined an ambitious plan to stop the next pandemic, calling for a global alert system, massive testing, a cadre of 3,000 “first responders” ready to spring into action and tens of billions of dollars of annual spending.
The Gates Foundation has spent more than $2 billion helping fund the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That money has gone to groups like the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to boost testing in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to help fund the development of lower-cost vaccines.
The Seattle Flu Study — an initiative funded by Bill Gates’ private office, Gates Ventures — identified the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. that hadn’t come from overseas. Gates himself came under fire during the pandemic when he downplayed the role that intellectual property had in preventing people from getting vaccines in developing countries. Anti-vaccine activists and fringe conspiracy theorists also have targeted the entrepreneur, with some saying he seeded the virus for his own purposes.
The good news is that progress on vaccines and expertise gained in combating respiratory illnesses will help prevent a future crisis, Gates said.
Plus, COVID-19 has shown the world the cost of failure. “If we make the right choices and investments, we can make COVID-19 the last pandemic,” he said.