Bill Gates has a clear message for the world: get ready for the next pandemic.
The Microsoft co-founder told the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney that politicians need to be able to set aside their differences in order to prepare for the next major virus.
But, despite his warnings, Gates praised Australia’s policies that kept the coronavirus from spreading while the world waited for a vaccine.
"Some of the things that stand out are that Australia and about seven other countries did population-scale diagnostics early on and had quarantine policies...that meant you kept the level of infection low in that first year when there were no vaccines,” he tech billionaire turned philanthropist said.
"The one thing that still hangs in the balance is will we have the global capacity and at the regional and country levels that would mean that when an [infectious disease] threat comes up we act in such a way that it doesn’t go global."
He then went on to stress that leaders need to be revisiting their pandemic policies every few years to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a mass-scale virus, infection, or disease.
"We need to be doing every five years a comprehensive exercise at both country and regional levels of pandemic preparedness and you need a global group that’s scoring everybody," he said.
He likened the exercise to workplace fire drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
"That’s definitely a best practice in the future," Gates said.
During his lengthy chat with Lowy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder admitted that no country got it 'totally right' when it came to handling the pandemic, but Australia certainly was at the top of the pile.
By his calculations, Australia’s death rate per capita would be roughly 12 per cent among the wealthy countries of the world, including America.
Speaking of America, Gates slammed Donald Trump's Covid-19 policies in the US during his tenure as President, stating that America's failure to quarantine en masse and scale up diagnostics for the virus was precisely why the nation recorded a staggering 1.1 million deaths.
Gates is currently visiting Australia with members of his Breakthrough Energy company.
He met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday (January 21) at the weekend to discuss Covid-19 and climate change, among other issues.
Since January 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than US$2 billion (AUD$2.8 billion, £1.6 billion) to the global Covid-19 response.
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