Bill Gates said 90% of the views on his 2015 TED talk, in which he predicted a virus could kill millions, came “after it was too late.”
Gates spoke again on how to prevent against pandemics during the TED2022 conference in Vancouver on Tuesday.
A video of Gates’ 2015 talk has more than 36 million views on YouTube.
Bill Gates gave a key note speech at the TED2022 conference on Tuesday, and referenced his 2015 talk in which he warned a pandemic was on the horizon, and we weren’t ready for it.
Today, Gates said he hoped the current COVID-19 crisis would spur his audience at TED2022 in Vancouver, Canada to pay closer attention to his advice about how to prevent another pandemic wreaking similar havoc on society.
“When I was on this stage in 2015, I was one of many people who said we weren’t ready and we needed to get ready. We didn’t,” Gates said. “The speech actually was watched by a lot of people, but 90% of the views were after it was too late.”
In the 2015 talk, Gates said the world was “not ready for the next epidemic” and viruses pose the “greatest risk of global catastrophe” compared to other threats to humanity. A YouTube video of his 2015 presentation has garnered more than 36 million views so far.
“If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes,” Gates said at the time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 6 million deaths worldwide. The US has experienced the most deaths out of any nation at nearly 1 million.
Though Gates urged governments to invest in healthcare and medicine technology in his 2015 talk, US cut funding to virus prevention agencies shortly after. The Trump administration shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council and eliminated the US government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund.
“COVID, it’s hard to overstate how awful it’s been,” Gates told his TED2022 audience. “It’s increased the health inequities between the rich and the poor. Your survival depended partly on your income, your race, the neighborhood you lived in.”
Later in the talk, Gates said rich countries should come together to implement systems that would help prevent the next large scale pandemic while the tragedy of COVID-19 is still fresh in our memory. So far, he said, world leaders have taken less action than he expected.
“After World War II, we did a lot, we created the United Nations,” Gates said. “So far, the action has been less than I would’ve expected. I’d be stunned if we don’t go forward with something pretty close to what I’m laying out.”
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