Mar 2, 2020 - Health

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

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

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Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board

Bill Gates at the 2019 New Economy Forum on November 21, 2019 in Beijing, China. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Microsoft's Bill Gates stepped down from the company's board of directors on Friday to focus on philanthropy in arenas like global health and education.

The big picture: It's been a slow, long exit for Gates who has devoted more of his time to humanitarian efforts for more than a decade. He handed over the CEO reins 20 years ago and left full-time employment with the company more than a decade ago.

How the war on disease made our world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The biggest pandemic in decades serves as a reminder of just how big a role infectious disease has played in human history — and will continue to play in the future.

The big picture: Without victory over infection, humanity wouldn't have developed the globalized and populous civilization of today. Yet that civilization is vulnerable to COVID-19, which can only be fought by decoupling the connections that underpin the modern world.

Go deeperArrowMar 28, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus cases top 1,000 as states scramble to curb the spread

A stretcher is moved from an AMR ambulance to the Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. soared to 1,037 and the death toll to at least 31 by early Wednesday, per data from Johns Hopkins and state health departments.

The big picture: Nearly 40 states had reported cases by Tuesday and at least 12 have declared a state of emergency — Washington, California, New York, Oregon, Kentucky, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida and Michigan — which reported its first two cases on Tuesday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - Health