How fun and topical. In this video, Gates argues that the biggest threat facing global society is the threat of an epidemic. More specifically, the threat is our collective lack of preparedness for it. For one thing, we have not organized epidemiological and medical teams ready to mobilize at the...
How fun and topical. In this video, Gates argues that the biggest threat facing global society is the threat of an epidemic. More specifically, the threat is our collective lack of preparedness for it. For one thing, we have not organized epidemiological and medical teams ready to mobilize at the outbreak of a contagious disease. He also criticizes the lack of fast action in regards to research and treatment. For him, this is a global issue. He uses ebola as a case study, analyzing the reasons that ebola was relatively contained to West Africa in 2014. He goes on to warn that the next disease may be far more dangerous and widespread. To illustrate the potential danger of an epidemic, he discusses the Spanish Flu of 1918.
In the second half of the video, Gates identifies actions that governments can take to prevent fallout. First, we have advanced technology that has created tools which can be harnessed by the global health system. He talks about what governments need to do in order to prepare for pandemic. Developing countries need stronger healthcare; developed countries need to mobilize their healthcare in the way that they mobilize militaries. He talks about building a medical reserves corps and playing “germ games” instead of “war games” so that governments can learn about the spread of disease and how to limit it. Finally, Gates argues that funding needs to be poured into research and development to prevent loss of life and capital when the next epidemic hits.
By applying Gates’s suggestions to the US government and bureaucracy’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, one can see shortcomings to the government's immediate response to this disease. Clearly, there was no medical reserves corps ready to go. There was no consistent messaging to the public, nor was there a clear strategy that went into place. We, for instance, did not see a unified shelter-in-place mandate, set-up for wide-scale testing, or immediate delivery of medical aid. In the past few weeks, we have seen exactly the panic, economic downturn, and “hoarding [of] spaghetti cans” which Gates warns about at the end of the video.