As the spread of the coronavirus continues to bear down on China, creating concern across the globe, Bill Gates has made a donation of $10 million to fight the outbreak of the disease through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But did the Microsoft founder predict that an outbreak such as the coronavirus would hit the world?

Back in April 2018, Gates spoke at an event hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine on the topic of pandemics (via CNBC). While the coronavirus hasn’t reached the threshold of a pandemic to date, it is cause for concern, which Gates warned at the time that the world was not prepared to handle.

In his speech, Gates said, “ This failure should concern us all, because history has taught us there will be another deadly global pandemic. We can’t predict when, but given the continual emergence of new pathogens, the increasing risk of a bioterror attack, and the ever-increasing connectedness of our world, there is a significant probability that a large and lethal modern-day pandemic will occur in our lifetime. ”

Gates may have been on to something as the coronavirus has already taken the lives of at least 132 people in China and sickened as many as 6,100 people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Gates, “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war. This preparation includes staging simulations, war games, and preparedness exercises so that we can better understand how diseases will spread and how to deal with responses such as quarantine and communications to minimize panic.”

Gates cited epidemics such as the swine flu, as an indicator that the world was not prepared for the spread of a pandemic. While the swine flu didn’t reach the level of infection that many feared, according to Gates, it served as a lesson.

He called for people to “ imagine that somewhere in the world a new weapon exists or could emerge that is capable of killing millions of people, bringing economies to a standstill, and casting nations into chaos. If it were a military weapon, the response would be to do everything possible to develop countermeasures. In the case of biologic threats, that sense of urgency is lacking. ”

Gates called for an action plan, saying, “We need a clear road map for a comprehensive pandemic preparedness and response system, because lives, in numbers too great to comprehend, depend on it.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $10 commitment included $5 million for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $5 million for China to help frontline responders to contain the global spread of the coronavirus.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, admits that the American college experience has its shortcomings. But he still advises students to graduate, because research shows a college degree results in higher wages and a more rewarding career. Reuters/Yuri Gripas