The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared coronavirus a global health emergency following the “unprecedented” outbreak which has struck down more than 8,000 people worldwide. But the disease did not come without warning, with Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates predicting before the outbreak that a virus could spread rapidly across the planet.
Mr Gates, who is worth $108billion (£83billion), warned in 2015 in a Ted Talk that authorities had become complacent in the battle against a major viral outbreak, stating: “We’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”
And in November 2019, just one month before the coronavirus broke out, the 64-year old warned a major disease is on the horizon, and that it could take up to five years to find a cure.
In one of the episodes of Netflix’s ‘Pandemic’, Mr Gates said: “If a disease comes along that we haven’t seen before, typically it would take four or five years to come up with a vaccine against that disease.
“And new technologies might shorten those times.
“When a pandemic comes along of any size, we always look back and wish we invested more.”
To make the foresight even more eerie, the narrator of the documentary even predicted where the virus might emerging, pinpointing “wet markets”, where fresh meat, fish, produce, and other perishable goods are sold in China.
The narrator of the documentary said: “This is a wet market in the Lianghua, China. Unlike markets in much of the West, where animals are already dead when they arrive, this wet market sells meat that’s very fresh.
“It’s killed on sight. That’s what makes it a disease X factory.
“Many different animal species are stacked on top of each other, their blood and meat mixed, before being passed from human to human.
“All the while, their viruses are mixing and mutating, increasing the odds that one finds its way to humans.”
When the virus was first contracted by humans from a seafood market in Wuhan, experts believed it could not be easily spread from human to human.
However, a sharp rise in the disease since its initial discovery in December has proved the doctors wrong.
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WHO has now declared the outbreak a global emergency, and said the search for a cure must be accelerated.
Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom said: “Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, and which has been met by an unprecedented response.
“As I have said repeatedly since my return from Beijing, the Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak, despite the severe social and economic impact those measures are having on the Chinese people.
“We would have seen many more cases outside China by now – and probably deaths – if it were not for the government’s efforts, and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world.”
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