Gates called for “greater global co-operation“, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of how countries could “improve their response if they worked together“.
“Compare the economic cost of preparing for the next to the cost of this, over $10 trillion in economic loss,”he said.
“With the pandemic, we were foolish not to have the tools, the practice and the global capacity to be on standby as we do with fire or earthquakes.”
The Microsoft founder said a stable international order “based on mutual political will” was needed to “deal with future pandemics“.
“The only thing that is still hanging in the balance is whether we have the global capacity and at the regional and national level, which would mean that if there is a threat (from infectious diseases), we act in a way that does not make it global”.
He also called for ‘preparedness exercises’ every five years:
“We need to have a comprehensive pandemic preparedness exercise every five years at both the national and regional levels, and you need a global group to assess everyone.”
He criticised the United States, led by Donald Trump, for threatening to withdraw from the World Health Organization and withholding funding.
“There is this tremendous failure of market capitalism to address some of the needs of the poorest. Their voice in the market is very small,” he said.
Mr. Gates called for an increase in the resources of the international health agency.
He also said that U.S. policy, and by extension Australia’s, towards China needs a more conciliatory and cooperative political approach to tackling big issues like climate change.
“I see China’s rise as a major win for the world… the current US mentality towards China, which is reciprocated, is a kind of loser-loser mentality.
That could be very self-fulfilling in a very negative way.”
Of course, Gates praised Australia’s policies, much like he did in October 2020, for helping ‘keep infection rates down before vaccines were introduced’.
“Some of the standout things are that Australia and about seven other countries had population-scale diagnostics early on and had quarantine policies,” he said.
“That meant you kept the infection levels down for that first year when there were no vaccines.”
This follows on comments he left at the annual Munich Security Conference earlier this month: