Mar 2, 2020 - Health

Bill Gates: Coronavirus is "a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen" we've feared

Bill Gates at the Economic Club of Washington
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Bill Gates, who has devoted much of his life and fortune to global health, warns in The New England Journal of Medicine that the coronavirus "has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about."

The big picture: Gates, always an optimist, writes that in addition to responding to this crisis, "we also need to make larger systemic changes so we can respond more efficiently and effectively when the next epidemic arrives."

What he's saying:

  • "I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise."
  • "There are two reasons that Covid-19 is such a threat. First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems."
  • "Second, Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase. There is also strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill ... Covid-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in a quarter of the time."

Go deeper: Billionaires and multinationals donate to fight coronavirus

Go deeper