Billionaire and pandemic-preparedness advocate Bill Gates has expressed his regret over the way the coronavirus crisis has unfolded.
The Microsoft co-founder has repeatedly warned of the dangers a pandemic like the coronavirus poses to global health and the economy, describing it in previous years as the threat that keeps him up at night.
“If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes,” Gates said during a 2015 TED Talk.
But now Gates has expressed his regret that his warnings weren’t heeded.
“I feel terrible,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
“The whole point of talking about it was that we could take action and minimise the damage.”
He said he wished the warnings that he and other people had given had “led to more coordinated global action”.
Gates has been highly critical of the US government’s response to the coronavirus, warning the “once in a century pathogen” would cost the country trillions of dollars.
The WSJ said Gates had even warned US president Donald Trump of the need to prepare during a meeting with him on the campaign trail.
The billionaire has also pledged billions to finding a vaccine, after running a coronavirus simulation in 2019, which warned such a virus could kill 65 million people.
“I’m putting hundreds of millions of the foundation’s money into this,” Gates said this week.
“But it’s really a governmental thing, just like the defense budget is there to help with an outbreak of war.
“My hope now is that leaders around the world, who are responsible for protecting their citizens, will take what has been learned from this tragedy and invest in systems to prevent future outbreaks.”
The coronavirus pandemic has so far killed 292,000 people, with 83,000 of those casualties occurring in America.