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Bill Gates – lets prevent the next inevitable epidemic!

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 pm, April 5th, 2020 - 37 comments
Categories: covid-19, Economy, health, Media, Social issues, video - Tags: ,

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news for the last few years, Bill and Melinda Gates have been plowing some of their wealth into mitigating and preventing epidemics over the last decade. Like the World Health Organisation and just about anyone with any sense of medical history, he predicted very accurately the type of epidemic we are now facing – a worldwide respiratory pandemic.

He is facing Trevor Noah on the Social Distancing Show yesterday. His ideas have a world wide clarity that is worth listening to. It is exactly applicable to what New Zealand is currently dealing with and the choices we will have to make when the immediate lockdown is over.

Watch it and make up your own mind.

There is one stipulation on my post – if you want to make an ideological rant about Bill Gates, Microsoft, Linux, or billionaires funding charities (or the really odd fandom faction) then I’d suggest you use OpenMike because I have heard them all before. I’m seriously uninterested in hearing another repetitive parrot.

So stick to the topic in the video please. Or get a ban from my itchy finger. This is your warning.

37 comments on “Bill Gates – lets prevent the next inevitable epidemic!”

  1. Muttonbird 1

    Gates certainly does good work which is important for developing nations but I found his answer to the question at 4mins disappointing; 'Leaders acted late, what do you think we need to do going forward?'

    Gates talked about reactive measures rather than proactive measures. He speaks of rapid response and isolation and modelling and vaccines without addressing a global alert system where viruses are able to be contained at source.

    Sorry, didn't watch the rest because I believe the rest is about what happens if you don't get it right at the start.

    • lprent 1.1

      The rest of it is worth watching. 

      Remember that he is trying to get people in governments all over the world to do things. Being politic  about criticising them directly isn't part of what you do to make that happen. It just winds up as a slagging match with no good outcomes.

      So you never got to the bits about what he is actually doing. How very impatient and impetuous of you… It does read like the actions of an adolescent…

      I on the other hand don't have to be politic or nice. 😈


      • Muttonbird 1.1.1

        It's great he's doing a lot of work around modelling and getting equipment and testing where it needs to be in the event of a pandemic.

        I don't want Gates to criticise governments, rather get them together to create a global system where virus outbreaks are squashed and researched before they get 5 feet.

        • lprent

          I suspect that might happen after this pandemic runs its course. It has been a helpful reminder of what a repository disease can do. It is just a pity that wasn’t picked up during SARS1 in 2003. Then we’d have been ready for this one.

        • aj

          Watched the lot and we are following his advice. Good.

    • Carolyn_Nth 1.2

      Yes.  But I think Gates is perhaps the highest profile public figure who warned of this.

      The interesting question is why so many governments acted late. I read a couple of weeks back of an expert/scientist who had warned of such an epidemic a few years ago, and was now at the forefront in the US of developing a vaccine.  So I tried googling to find the article.

      I found other articles about the various experts who had warned of this, and of recommendations for preparing for it to the US government.  And this is the shocker.

      Atlantic reports on it.

      It includes Obama's outgoing homeland security team briefing the incoming Trump team on the nightmare scenario of a fast spreading pandemic. The US National Security Council warned of it in 2018. 

      The very next day, news broke that National Security Adviser John Bolton had shuttered the NSC’s unit for preparing and responding to pandemics, of which Borio was a part. The White House official in charge of spearheading such a response to infectious threats departed as well and was not replaced.

      And on the article goes…

      However, I do think the systems NZ is now developing will remain in place in preparation for a further pandemic, going by some of the PM's reported comments this morning.

      e.g. systems for border controls, contact tracing and technologies to assist with these.



      • Incognito 1.2.1

        Yes. But I think Gates is perhaps the highest profile public figure who warned of this.


  2. UncookedSelachimorpha 2

    Bill Gates' Ted Talk in 2015 on the coming pandemic…was remarkably accurate and prescient. I have to admire him for this, full talk is here:

  3. Blazer 3

    Not exactly inspiring progress is it?


    'Bill and Melinda Gates have been plowing some of their wealth into mitigating and preventing epidemics over the last decade.'

    • lprent 3.1

      Depends which continent you're in. Try looking outside of the developed world and in places like at Africa. Where the ongoing plages of HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, malaria, some of those disgusting worm diseases have been endemic

      Not to mention the outbreaks of Ebola, including the current one in West Africa.


      What has been admirable is the foundations focus on delivering permanent solutions rather than band-aids.

      • kiwi 3.1.1

        what about the countries that have bought charges against him and his foundation, he,s a globalist and not to be trusted, he has a sinister agenda with his vaccine program, rfid chips etc, was also matey with epstein the pedophile

  4. RedLogix 4

    Thanks for this Lyn. It's not at all fashionable in leftie circles to admit to anything good that the very wealthy achieve, but there are definitely some who are making notable and worthwhile contributions with their good fortune. I watched the video right through … absolutely worth the time.

    This pandemic is brutally uncovering the weakness of the UN to coordinate a global response. As I've said so often now it's boring, virtually all the big problems we face are global in nature and demand responses at that scale. (Hell even NZ and Australia are at loggerheads over the SCV444 citizens and this could well get worse.)

    I'm bitterly dissapointed seeing how much credibility WHO has burned through under Tedros's compromised leadership, just when we really needed them most. Absolutely when this is over I'd be demanding a root and branch reform of this organisation, with a brand new mandate to compel data transparency and reporting standards globally … at the very least.

    As for the unseemly and disheartening squabbles going on between countries over medical equipment … this threatens the global rule of law in ways we've not seen in our lifetime. Trust is being eroded right under our eyes.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      And here is a very good alternative vision around universal health care (UHC)

      Each year millions of people are pushed further into poverty as they are forced to pay for healthcare costs out of their own pockets. The international drive for universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 – UHC2030 – aims to change this and is based on the idea that everyone, no matter where they live, should be able to access medical care without suffering financial hardship.

    • A 4.2

      Ultimately we are the ones responsible for permitting WHO that credibility in the first place. 

      NZ is an independent nation but when it comes to health the US welds strong influence.  Time to snatch that back…  Food pyramids, supplementation and alternatives to expensive drugs need to be properly assessed by NZ or we will forever be subjects of US political lobbying by default.   

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    I watched the whole interview. At the end, when asked "what else is coming at us", Gates alluded to a worse, terrorist-made pandemic, but tempered that by indicating that this present pandemic will serve as practice and inure or protect (hopefully) against that. I sensed wryness in his comment, but imagine being caught out unprepared in that circumstance.

    • Treetop 5.1

      "what else is coming at us"

      I watched the interview. I was left wondering "what else is coming at us" just concerning Covid-19. Bronx Zoo in the US has a tiger with Covid-19 and 6 tigers and lions which are probable. A zoo employee has the virus.

      Source 1 News online.

      Can an infected animal give it to a human?

      Can an infected animal die from it?

      Is Covid -19 being discharged in sewage?

      Can marine life and fish get it and pass it on through the food chain?

      This sort of scenario would be enough to handle, anything worse is unthinkable.


  6. Siobhan 6

    I get it..we are scared, we feel powerless in the face of this virus…but lets not, at this important world wide juncture, allow the 1% to entirely reset the world to suit their own agenda, egos and wealth..


    an old article for sure, but from what i can see the critisisms still hold true…in a nutshell…

    "the foundation's emphasis on future solutions, like new vaccines and drugs, ignores the fact that treatments and health strategies that are known to work are not being implemented."  (my bolds)

    Further more…this philanthropy undoubtedly is..

    diverting attention and resources away from the failings of contemporary manifestations of capitalism”, and may also be serving as a substitute for public spending withdrawn by the state.


    If anyone really is into Bill Gates and his philanthropy I seriously recommend this…https://kpfa.org/episode/against-the-grain-october-5-2016/

    and for a quick read…https://www.thenation.com/article/society/bill-gates-foundation-philanthropy/

    as Lprent says…the fact that Gates 'predicted' a world wide epidemic doesn't make him anything special..after all Terry Nation wrote the script 40 years ago..



    • Adrian Thornton 6.1

      You mean this Terry Nation I presume, a classic watch from beginning to end…




    • francesca 6.2

      Totally agree Siobhan 

      My God, that it's come to this, when we are being asked to bow  down before outrageously and insanely rich oligarchs who've gained their wealth from the very economic system that's landed us in this mess.

      Be grateful S, he's such a good man !!!!


      • Tabletennis 6.2.1

        Totally agree too Siobhan  !

        You would think that the right question would be 'how to prevent the next bird-flu, swine-flu, sars- out break' before we got to covid-19 –
        As if many an environmentalist, ecologist, biologist haven't predicted this already.

        Mr Gates involvement with industrial animal farming in Africa is to carry two faces under one hood.
        Investigative journalism tells you a lot more than a promo for the benefit of Mr gates businesses & friends.

        "The report’s author, Mark Curtis, outlines the foundation’s promotion of industrial agriculture across Africa, which would undermine existing sustainable, small-scale farming that is providing the vast majority of food across the continent."

    • lprent 6.3

      …predicted' a world wide epidemic…

      Look everyone did. I wrote a paper on it back in the late 90s for history paper. The difference is that the Gates foundation is actually doing something about it both for this this round, but also 

      I am afraid that looking at dimwit critics who can talk holds way less weight with me than people who do something.

      the foundation's emphasis on future solutions, like new vaccines and drugs, ignores the fact that treatments and health strategies that are known to work are not being implemented.

      That criticism points more to the critic's obvious and self-evident ignorance. The foundation was set up to look at new solutions. If existing solutions were there, then it was left to existing state, international and NGO operators. That simply isn't a valid criticism. That is someone being narcissistic whiner.

      …diverting attention and resources away from the failings of contemporary manifestations of capitalism”, and may also be serving as a substitute for public spending withdrawn by the state.

      I guess the point that the states (and their voters) are responsible for what they choose to do has nothing to do with it?

      What Gates chooses to do with it is to look at new ways of dealing with diseases, that specifically is something that is seldom done by any one. Least of all by the self-adsorbed self-interested voters of the developed world that you should be criticising.

      If you want something to look at for an example, the I suggest that you look at why the funding got dropped by the governments for a SARS-COV-1 vaccine after 2003.

  7. Molly 7

    I watched the documentary by Lilian Francke on TVNZ on demand, called "Trust WHO", about both the funding of the WHO, which is only funded 30% by the UN.  The rest comes from NGO's like the Gates Foundation.

    The documentary, looks at the pressures put on the WHO to declare the H1N1 Swine Flu as a pandemic, and the description of a pandemic was changed in order to do so.  Immediately, the reserves of Tamiflu were picked up by governments around the world.  There are links between these NGO foundations and pharmaceutical companies that need to be kept in mind when listening to their advice.  Funding from these large NGOs, often come with requirements – not necessarily with differing health outcomes in mind.

    I listened to the video while typing this, but haven't really heard much from Gates that is much more than others have been saying.  So, agree that he is saying worthwhile things in alignment with others.  Don't think he has a particularly worthwhile view over and above though.

  8. A 8

    [US] "There is a new virus every election year" – Catherine Austin Fitts

  9. arkie 9

    Bill Gates recently announced he’s stepping down from the board of Microsoft, the trillion-dollar software colossus he cofounded, to “dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change.” The national papers happily reported the news: “In his post-Microsoft career, Mr. Gates has become better known for his work in fighting infectious diseases and climate change. [In February], the Gates Foundation said it would commit an additional $100 million to fight the coronavirus,” the New York Times reported.

    But Bill Gates and his foundation are the perfect picture of why this model of billionaire philanthropy is so flawed. Gates’s foundation was originally cooked up as a feel-good gloss to cover up his shredded reputation during Microsoft’s antitrust trial, putting him in the long tradition of obscenely rich people using the occasional generous gift to try justifying their enormous wealth and power.


    Despite trying to donate his fortune he (and other billionaire philanthropists) keep getting richer:

    Bill and Melinda Gates have given away more than $45 billion through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which primarily works to combat global poverty. Their work has saved millions of lives. At the same time, the Gateses themselves have just kept getting wealthier. (Gates’s fortune surpassed $100 billion once before, briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom. Adjusted for inflation, that’d be $150 billion today.)


    The Gates Foundation also spent millions trying to force their ideas of changing public education through charter schools with very poor results:

    “This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.”

    It was a remarkable admission for a foundation that had often acted as though it did have all the answers. Today, the Gates Foundation is clearly rethinking its bust-the-walls-down strategy on education — as it should. And so should the politicians and policymakers, from the federal level to the local, who have given the educational wishes of Bill and Melinda Gates and other well-meaning  philanthropists and foundations too much sway in recent years over how schools are run.


    I would be more inclined to praise him if he was actually relinquishing his billions and the power that comes with it. As it seems now, he is most concerned with continued accumulation of both. despite his declarations otherwise.

    • lprent 9.1

      I would be more inclined to praise him if he was actually relinquishing his billions and the power that comes with it.

      One of the things about accumulating large amounts of money is that it inherently allows the money to keep accumulating if you don't do something stupid.

      That is kind of inherent in the existing system. You only have to look at the way that the Cullen fund or the EQC fund generally keep increasing faster than any contributions to their funds. Or Kiwisaver. 

      Generally people, companies, governments, and even nature tend to invest resources into enterprises and processes that return added resources/value rather than in those that reduce resources/value. 

      To do anything else is to try to spiral into negative entropy. What the Gates are doing as well as accumulating is to invest in the kinds of things that they think will increase the common good. They aren’t going to get everything right – but in the end that is their choice.

      After all, they could just try to keep acculmulating more money – which probably won’t help anyone else. Which do you think is better?

      What exactly is your point – that you're kind of jealous and outright stupid? A criticism that your self-entitled performance makes you deserve.

      • arkie 9.1.1

        And I think it is not right to continue to uphold a system that allows an individual to accumulate that amount of money. I disagree that it acceptable to allow the dispensation of that kind of wealth to be up to the individuals hoarding said wealth. A better system would be to tax it from indiviuals and allowed it to be spent more democratically. No person has earned a billion dollars.

        • lprent

          That is kind of a separate question though…. But I'll give a view on that.

          After seeing the kinds of resources that is required to get even quite small development projects up and running, and after looking into a number of government software projects (basically govt is crap at development), I'd say that letting people make obscene profits is the cost of innovation.

          Sure a few of them, might bask in their wealth – but usually only the raw material extractors. But in the technical innovators, most of them seem to mostly push their wealth from innovations back into creating more innovations.

          In my experience, democratic disbursements won't fund any innovation. They will spend any wealth on bread and circuses, and the innovations that allow their grandkids to have a life can be done by them. Selfish I know – but absolutely normal behaviour by humans – and as boringly economic as hell.

          Which means – in a era of population growth, that there is a general spiral into poverty. You have to be kind of nuts and operate in particularly uneconomic ways to do what most innovators do.

          You kind of wind up with two ways of providing a future. Dictators demanding sacrifices for the future – like Stalin, Hitler, or whomever you want to name. Or you let innovators gain obscene wealth to create more common wealth. On the whole I prefer not to spiral society into medieval poverty, or suffer dictatorial dickheads making arbitrary decisions and then enforcing sacrifices to get them.

          Sure there might be a fourth way – but so far I’ve never seen any realistic signs of it happening. At least not this side of the population growth curve. Maybe after 2050 when it tips the other way.

          In the meantime, I’ll go for the least harm and societal limits on our innovative nutters.

        • Jum

          " No person has earned a billion dollars."  Agree – follows the 'no man is an island' principle.

  10. AB 10

    Ok – I've listened to the whole thing and I'll take the bait. Gates isn't a virologist or epidemiologist. Therefore he didn't 'predict' anything.He has obviously picked up on information coming from other sources. (At 2m 17s he says "there were lots of individuals as worried as I was…) The best you could say was that he saw that the components needed for an integrated global response weren't in place – and that things would get nasty quickly. But it would be preposterous to assume that he was the only one who saw that.  We have to get past the idea that the rich are uniquely prescient – this is the billionaire capitalist saviour delusion that we are encouraged to embrace.

     Nevertheless he has decided to throw his money and reputation into this area. That's great – though it's worth noting that he hasn't thrown his money into anything that might undermine the systems that allowed him to accumulate the money in the first place.

    In terms of the content. His advice on what to do in the current epidemic is sensible and unremarkable – pretty much in line with what we hear everyday in NZ at 1:00 pm from non-billionaire Ashley Bloomfield. His observation that believing we have to prioritise  the economy over  human health, or vice versa, is a false dilemma is also good. Though Jacinda (a non-billionaire) said the same thing yesterday. The financial contribution that his Foundation is making to the development of up to 7 vaccine candidates is excellent – allowing them all to move forward rather than having to pick winners prematurely.

    Really – this is all he offers, the ability to mobilise a lot of money quickly. He brings no unique insight. I suppose we should be grateful given the current situation – though having a small number of absurdly rich people whom you hope will do something useful, doesn't seem like a particularly good long-term crisis management strategy. And Trevor Noah's sycophancy and calling Gates 'prophetic' was very silly.

    • lprent 10.1

      But neither Jacinda, nor I, nor you did anything about possible pandemics. Where as the Gates foundation has now been doing it for decades.

      What does that say about you?

      • Tabletennis 10.1.1

        LPrent, Interesting to see that you are so full of this man, who is like giving it one and taking with the other hand:
        This is what he also did in the last 2 decades: –

        More than 80% of Africa’s seed supply comes from millions of small-scale farmers recycling and exchanging seed from year to year. But AGRA is promoting the commercial production of seed and is thus supporting the introduction of commercial (chemical-dependent) seed systems, which risk enabling a few large companies to control seed research and development, production and distribution.

        The report [by Mark Curtis] notes that over the past two decades a long and slow process of national seed law reviews, sponsored by USAID and the G8 along with Bill Gates and others, has opened the door to multinational corporations’ involvement in seed production, including the acquisition of every sizeable seed enterprise on the African continent.

  11. Poission 11

    Like the World Health Organisation and just about anyone with any sense of medical history, he predicted very accurately the type of epidemic we are now facing – a worldwide respiratory pandemic.

    There is little there what was already known.

    Charles Nicolle the NP laureate wrote in 1930

    Natures attempts to create new diseases are as constant as they are usually vain.What happened in antiquity when,by exception.nature succeeded in an attempt is repeated at every moment now and will continue to be repeated always.It is inevitable. Equally inevitable is the fact that…when we become aware of these diseases,these are already formed.

    The US was aware of the issues for emergent infections in 1992,where the report highlighted problems for enhanced infection from international travel,along with significant recommendations.

    The emergence of HIV disease and AIDS, the reemergence of tuberculosis, and the increased opportunity for disease spread through international travel demonstrate the critical importance of global vigilance for infectious diseases.

    This volume highlights risk factors for the emergence of microbial threats to health, warns against complacency in public health, and promotes early prevention as a cost-effective and crucial strategy for maintaining public health in the United States and worldwide


    As an interesting aside.Other techs (with significant expertise in complex system analysis) such as Stephen Wolfram saw the alarm out of Wuhan early,configured the resources of their organisation to allow enhanced analysis.

  12. CrimzonGhost 12

    I don't think the sun shines out of Bill Gates arse but I also don't think he deserves as much slagging as offered up here. Not all billionaires are sociopaths nor worker oppressing/exploiting parasites. There are a handful who are humanists worthy of some modicum of respect.

  13. Observer Tokoroa 13

    The Difference

    The difference between the little boys and girls who slag-off Bill and Belinda Gates is that B & B have brains.

    They have done an enormous amount of good, for an enormous number of human beings.

    The dirty dumb schemers who try to crush B &B are lower than lower.

    They always will be.


  14. Tabletennis 14

    24 Oct 2019 -12 min.interview with Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist from India. Her latest book is entitled "One Earth, One Humanity vs. the 1%". She tell us more about her opposition to big multinationals such as Monsanto for their nefarious influence on agriculture.

    'Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto', Vandana Shiva

  15. joe90 15

    Bill wasn't the only one.

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