American billionaire and philanthropist, Bill Gates has tasked governments around the world, including Nigeria, to build healthcare services in preparation of another pandemic.
In response to a question raised by The Cable, Gates urged a country like Nigeria to invest in primary health care so it is well-prepared in the event of the next global pandemic.
He said more people die in Nigeria from primary healthcare deficit every year than the total number of deaths in Africa from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I mean, the deaths from the deficits and primary health care are dramatically higher every year than the total deaths going on in Africa from this pandemic, and so I hope it causes everyone in society to look at these health issues,” Gates told TheCable.
“The unfortunate reality is that COVID‐19 might not be the last pandemic. We don’t know when the next one will strike, or whether it will be a flu, a coronavirus, or some new disease we’ve never seen before,” Gates said.
“But what we do know is that we can’t afford to be caught flat‐footed again. The threat of the next pandemic will always be hanging over our heads—unless the world takes steps to prevent it,” he added.
This is not the first time Gates has raised alarm over the possibility of a new pandemic in the future.
In 2020, Gates had previously warned about the prospect of a worldwide pandemic and believes that another one is almost inevitable in an increasingly globalised world.
When asked about it, he said, “Hopefully it could be 20 years from now”, before adding, “but we must assume it could be 3 years from now… There is a reasonable probability that the world will face something like this in the next 10 or 15 years,” he added.
He added that the tools being developed to detect and combat the coronavirus are coming late in the pandemic – but they will be helpful in battling the next global disease outbreak.
In February 2020, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $100 million to fight the outbreak, a large portion of which has been directed toward vaccine development.
Speaking on Nigeria’s plan for local vaccine production, Gates explained that making a new vaccine factory can take more than five years. He advised that Nigeria or any country in Africa could plan ahead for the next pandemic.
“There are a very high-volume of factories in the developing world, primarily in Indonesia and India. Making a new vaccine factory is a more than five-year effort.
The 65-year-old who said he took the COVID-19 vaccine recently also told journalists that he ended up getting the Moderna vaccine.
“I had no choice, they don’t ask what your preference is. There are only two vaccines approved in the United States right now, Pfizer and Moderna. They’re both very good vaccines and very safe,” he added.
Gates also urged people to be open to learn about vaccines, adding that the more they learn, they would be amazed about how fantastic they are.