What did Bill Gates say about pandemics in 2015?
Addressing a TED Talk five years ago, Gates, 64, warned the next ‘global catastrophe’ would not be caused by war, but by a virus.
“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war – not missiles, but microbes.’ ‘Part of the reason for this is we have invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. ‘We’re not ready for the next epidemic.”
The COVID-19 Global Pandemic should not have been a surprise as the World Health Organization [WHO], Epidemiologists, Economists and futurologists all predicting the world was long, long overdue a Pandemic. However, it hit the world like a steam train. We are still living through it.
But as are LEXIT and see our with gradual walk out of lockdown beginning, many major nations have reached their peak of the disease and death rates and are beginning to see a way out.
It is undoubtedly time for us all to cast our eyes toward the horizon, reflect on the reactions of now and the possibilities for the future. The wisdom of nature tells us that growth always follows a cut of the knife and so the possibilities can be seen as brighter if we look through the right lens.
An Observation on Learning Lessons
We say Everything will Change and when This ends We will Learn …..
We could be and in fact probably are wrong on each of the following suppositions:
- “When this ends”……there wont be an ‘end’ they day when life flips back to BC [before Covid]
- “Everything will change” In due course many things will quietly slip back into their allocated space in each of our lives and everything will not change
- How much time and money will bankrupt economies in shock spend to learn and implement lessons and change
So caution; there will be change, that is certain as there already has been. However, the extent is dependent on the stakeholders involved in any change and those who have the most to gain will be the most motivated to adapt.
- Decision-makers: governmental, corporate, financial, entrepreneurs and innovators
- Change recipients: you and I
What history provides is a mixed message. Some experience would suggest that given the opportunity, individuals, groups, communities, cultures seek out their normal and quietly slip back into old habits and routines and quickly reestablish that order. This re-establishment could in theory signal a deeper entrenchment into BC norms as the familiar is clung to as a life raft from trauma.
The converse may also be true. In the 20th-century both wars were a catalyst for considerable scientific, socioeconomic and technical change. It just didn’t happen overnight.
Although in the midst of COVID it feels like a total game changer, it may only be a ‘wobble’, a recoverable jolt and the world will continue on its BC trajectory with issues such as environmentalism and technological innovation around artificial intelligence being far more significant in the long term.
There must be lessons learned though, the following are pieces of knowledge that can not be now unknown.
Human history and natural history can no longer be separated – human health and the health of the planet go together
Mother nature is always capable of outpunching all things and humans are so easily on the back foot or completely disabled. It has to be a recognised known that healthy societies and markets depend on the health of the natural environment.
Green and inclusive growth is no longer a nice thing to have: it is a non-negotiable.
Prevention is better than cure – we must learn to listen to science
In September 2019, the World Health Authority [WHO] issued an authoritative report urging governments to better prepare for a pandemic. No one did prepare fully. The USA was seen as the most prepared and stockpiled nation and there, in the 2nd week of April 2020 mass graves were dug in New York and nameless 100s were given their final send off in a medieval burial-pit.
Percentages of national budgets have to be reallocated in future. This being the case, what is cut? Defence, Policing, Education, or as usual, Social Care.
Global threats need global collaboration
Climate change, diseases and terrorism are ‘problems without passports’ [Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary General]. COVID-19 shows us that they cannot be stopped at the border and they can only be addressed cooperatively. The hands of nation-states, the UN, the WHO has been forced toward not just good national stewardship but international.
War on health not wealth.
The forces for change in this are not just a philosophy of ‘the other’ not the self [which would seem unrealisable], but also mechanisms such as coordination and mobilization. If these latter two are all that changes, they too will cost resource and require sustained and determined political will long after the world has been vaccinated against COVID -19.
Nations will of course always be nations, and as then race for a vaccine for COVID heats up, so does cyber crime allegedly from China, Iran and Russia.
The inevitability of Nationhood Suggests the obvious channel that is expert in both borderless coordination and mobilization that is free of a particular philosophy is commerce.
Although the public sectors of economies around the world have come to the forefront of the crisis management of COVID-19, commerce will continue to be the bridge-builder between nations.
Commerce can connect cultures and people, not through military power, but by spreading knowledge, mutual understanding and economic benefits. And in that commercial sector good corporate citizenship will become more important than it has ever been.
Environmental and Social Governance [ESG]: sustainable business management and sustainable investment could offer remarkable opportunities for growth, they just require a major pivot of goals, agendas, KPIs and other commercial ‘taken for granteds’.