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Bill Gates
Bill Gates says the world must prepare for the next pandemic as it would respond to any other emergency.

Gates wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday:
"We need a fire department for pandemics. The world hasn't done as much to get ready for the next pandemic as I'd hoped. But it's not too late to stop history from repeating itself."
Albeit concerned, Gates says he's optimistic about the World Health Organization's announcement of a Global Health Emergency Corps that could "spring into action at a moment's notice when danger emerges." He sees the success of this team as constantly practicing drills for different potential emerging pathogens, being able to implement widespread global testing, preventative sewage testing, and seamless coordination with governments across the world.

Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America suggests the chance of a pandemic similar to the impact of COVID-19 is 38% in someone's lifetime. The authors note that that percentage could double in years to come.

A pandemic emergency response team

Gates, who authored How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, writes:
"We need to prepare to fight disease outbreaks just as we prepare to fight fires. If a fire is left to burn out of control, it poses a threat not only to one home but to an entire community. The same is true for infectious diseases, except on a much bigger scale."
Gates, whose foundation with Melinda Gates has committed $2 billion toward the COVID-19 response since the start of the pandemic, underscores the grave cost of the COVID-19 pandemic — and how the loss of human life, the ongoing health complications people suffer, and the economic toll can be prevented in the future if prioritized.

Comment: Cue the handkerchief.

In order to better prepare for the next pandemic, Gates says the emergency team must be funded properly, led by public health leaders. Relying solely on volunteers won't be enough to act swiftly when a pandemic threat emerges, he writes.

Gates writes:
"Local responders need to know they can count on a surge of well-trained firefighters who will work seamlessly together. They can't arrive on the scene only to discover that their hoses don't fit on the closest hydrant or that they have a completely different approach from the other units."