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Before the coronavirus, Bill Gates sounded alarm on pandemic preparedness

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If anything kills over ten 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 Microsoft founder Bill Gates five years ago. In two thousand fifteen. He gave a popular Ted talk where he warned that. The greatest risk of a global catastrophe wouldn't come from nuclear war it would come from a highly infectious virus. I spoke to Bill Gates on Thursday night during CNN. Townhall on the corona virus together with my friend and colleague Anderson Cooper Bill Gates and his wife. Melinda have already given hundred million dollars toward global efforts to control Kovic nineteen through their bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today I wanNA share with you some of the highlights from our conversation. I'm Dr Sanjay Gupta. Cnn's chief medical correspondent this is corona virus fact versus fiction. Bill Gates has called for more investment in epidemic preparedness around the world and he started on Thursday night by telling us that the United States has not done nearly enough to prepare for the situation. We're in now when you don't know the problem will come around. Sometimes people prepare like we prepare for war with war games and putting lots of money into that but sadly we'd gone long enough without a disease here in the United States that even though we had a bowl and Zeka SARS not much happened the countries that really were affected by SARS actually are the ones that have done the best in this epidemic because they acted when the number of cases were still very very small. So so bill when you when you give a talk like he didn't two thousand fifteen. You see what's happening now I mean. Could you have foreseen the rest of this sort of response? The lack of infrastructure the lack of resources no apparent strategy really out of the gate has that part of it. Surprise you given that. I mean you were sounding the alarm five years ago. One one of the things I call for. Isn't that the same way we do? War Games on a regular basis. And we say okay. We're not ready to deal with Surprises I called for us to do germ games and look at okay. Who would talk to the private sector? Who would make sure that testing capacity was raised? Who would make sure that the right people are being rested in or not somebody without symptoms getting tested daily rather medical personnel. Who have symptoms? Who really need to know. And so I wouldn't have predicted exactly how slow and how somewhat chaotic. The response has been. But if we'd done those simulations we would have seen some of these laws in the system and you know behaved a little bit like the countries that have have done the best on this one. What stage do you think? The pandemic is in right now in the United States and globally and I guess what people are Home WanNa know. How close are we to a peak here in the US? Well the good news. Is that China? Did there Shut down and they did it in a very serious way and after a six week period of a shutdown that it's more extreme than even the best states in the United States are likely to do they were able to start opening up again and the total number of cases there is very very small. So that's very good news. We're entering a tough period. That if we do it right will only have to do it once per six to ten weeks but we have to do it has to be the whole country we have to raise the level of testing the prioritization of that testing quite dramatically in order to make sure we go through one shutdown so that we take the medical problem and really stop it before. There's a large number of deaths. We do then get an economic problem. Which is why you want to minimize the amount of time and having states go at different things or thinking you can do it county by County. That will not work. The cases will be exponentially growing anywhere. You don't have a serious shutdown in many states there. There's less than than two hundred cases right now. You're saying even in those states the same kind of shutdown needs to occur. Well let's say you have one hundred cases and let's say you don't do a shutdown. Then it grows thirty three percent per day. If you take one hundred thousand and get ten thousand it's exponential growth. If you're not stopping the sooner you in engage in the shutdown the easier it is to get to that peak we have. We have not peaked. The parts of the country. That aren't shut down by the in late April. We should start to see the numbers peak. There they'll still be to hide. Open UP SEAL. Probably have to go another month to really get those numbers down but any part of the country that has cases and truthfully because of our problems with testing because we're not prioritizing testing the right way that a lot of those places actually do have cases but even if they have one hundred that will grow and people do. Cross county boundaries and so basically the whole country needs to do what was done in the part of China where they had these infections. I don't WANNA be political in any way but just in terms of for folks who are out there you know and looking forward. I always think it's better to know. Just factually what's coming down the Pike Than You know then. It's good to have hopes and aspirations. But it's good to know what's actually coming down the pike for people who are believing or imagining that in middle of April or early April people are able to gather together and churches for celebrate for Easter celebrations. Or go back to work in a regular way. It sounds like you're saying you don't believe that's realistic. No it's not realistic. The numbers are still going up. That only happens after the numbers have Pekan are going down a lot and getting down when absolute level. You know there are some good things happening. The work on a vaccine although that probably will take eighteen months out it's going full speed ahead. Our Foundation is funding. That we're looking at getting back scenes to everyone in the world so in the in the long run that is the key thing. We had a really positive result. That people were wondering. Did you have to have a medical person swab you in this way that they stuck it deep in your nose? We were able to prove which on on Monday the FDA made official that if you do a self test where you don't have to have the medical work with personal protection equipment. That self test is accurate as the one where the medical worker gift set. So that means that by self swabbing. We'll be able to get a lot more test on and only limited by the back end capacity. So there's you know there's good news coming one of the therapeutics although none of them are proven out. But they're quite a few. We have a things that foundation created called therapeutics accelerator to really look at thousands of compounds and make sure we focused the human trials on the ones that have the most promise so you know innovation which some of which we could have done in advance but innovation really is happening. But you know when you look at those numbers the US now. With the most cases there is state that has gotten to the point where their numbers are flat and are going down and the testing capacity is means. We're quite blind to a lot of these cases right now so it it. It can be done but we're not. The light is not at the end of the tunnel. In terms of a mid April reopening with this you know Dr Fouled. Things have been very clear that this is a year eighteen months. Whatever that it will take before people could actually get this vaccine are there are there and I and I and I I know that he's he's right about that. But I'm just wondering from a technological standpoint. Are there ways to speed this up using genetically modified virus or anything to to expedite the process? Well for the next pandemic we should be able to make diagnostics very quickly like hundreds of millions within two months we should be able to scale up antiviral drugs from a much bigger library within like six months and by beam ready with. This aren't a platform we should be able to make vaccines and more like a year than a year and a half and so we can and I think governments this time probably will pay attention. to Making those investments or the next one you know. The one of the biggest open questions is therapeutics. Can we very quickly Find antiviral drug. That really means number people. Go on the respirator is much lower and cuts that death rate. Quite a bit. It's tough enough in the US with the put a lot of money into our health system. If you think about this is you get to India. Nigeria and the the even poor countries in Africa. Just imagine what the overloads can look like. They're and yet they won't be able to do the that isolation and so you know we we is. We've gotten the disease down with a low infection rate. We'll have to be not letting people go to those countries or come from those countries hardly at all. It'll be very strict in terms of how that testing is done. So the sooner we solve this on a global basis the sooner we can go back to the world economy. That actually was very