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Covid risks have diminished but another pandemic will come

Bill Gates said Friday that the risks of serious illness from Covid-19 have “significantly reduced” but another pandemic is almost certain.

Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the annual Germany Security Conference in Munich, Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said a potential new pandemic would likely come from a different pathogen than the one of the coronavirus family.

But he added that advances in medical technology should help the world fight it better – if investments are made now.

“We’ll have another pandemic. It’ll be a different pathogen next time,” Gates said.

Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, Gates said the worst effects have faded as huge swathes of the world’s population have gained some level of immunity. Its severity also decreased with the latest omicron variant.

However, Gates said that in many places it was due to the virus itself, which creates a level of immunity, and has “done a better job of reaching the world’s population than we have done with vaccines. “.

“The risk of severe disease, which is primarily associated with being older and being obese or diabetic, those risks are now greatly reduced due to this exposure to infection,” he said.

Gates said it was already “too late” to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population by mid-2022. Currently 61.9% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

He added that the world should move faster in the future to develop and distribute vaccines, calling on governments to invest now.

“Next time we should try to do it, instead of two years, we should do it six months instead,” Gates said, adding that standardized platforms, including messenger RNA (mRNA) technology ), would make this possible.

“The cost of being ready for the next pandemic is not that high. It’s not like climate change. If we’re rational, yes, next time we’ll catch it early.”

Gates, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has partnered with the UK’s Wellcome Trust to donate $300 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which helped form the Covax program to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

CEPI aims to raise $3.5 billion in an effort to reduce the time needed to develop a new vaccine to just 100 days.

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