How to Prevent the Next Pandemic

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Bill Gates discusses what we should do to prevent the next pandemic and improve global health.

Favorite quotes from the book:

A good rule of thumb is that an outbreak is when a disease spikes in a local area, an epidemic is when an outbreak spreads more broadly within a country or region, and a pandemic is when an epidemic goes global, affecting more than one continent. And some diseases don’t come and go, but stay consistently in a specific location — those are known as endemic diseases.

It’s hard to get your head around just how quickly a disease can spread, because exponential growth isn’t something that most of us encounter in our day-to-day lives. But consider the math. If 100 people have an infectious disease on Day 1, and if the number of cases doubles every day, the entire population of the earth will be infected by Day 27.

”Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.”

It’s impossible to ignore the impact their choices are having on millions of people, and there’s no better proof of those old political clichés: Elections have consequences, and leadership matters.

In Japan, postal workers perform some health services and disease surveillance. In Vietnam, teachers are trained to file a report with local health authorities if they ever notice that several children are absent from school with similar symptoms in the same week, and pharmacists are instructed to raise the alarm when they see a spike in sales of medicines for fever, cough, or diarrhea.

Worst of all, people in wealthy countries who were at low risk of becoming severely sick were being vaccinated before people in poorer countries who were at a much higher risk.

Where you live and how much money you have determines — to a great extent — your chance of dying young or growing up to become a thriving adult.

The fact that we now understand the threat like never before should inspire the world to take action — to invest billions now so we won’t lose millions of lives and trillions of dollars in the future.