Writing for The Economist about COVID19, Bill Gates explains that life will not return to normal until most of the population is vaccinated. People have a natural aversion to exposing themselves to disease. As the pandemic slows in developed nations, it will accelerate in developing countries, were fewer jobs can be done remotely and social distancing measures won’t work as well.
According to Gates, Coronavirus will hasten three big medical breakthroughs:
- Fast development of vaccines, along with facilities around the world to manufacture them. This will allow that in the future, other vaccines are manufactured at scale and at affordable prices.
- Diagnosis. Researches could have tests ready within a few months of identifying a new disease.
- Antiviral drugs. We haven’t been as effective at developing drugs to fight viruses as we have those to fight bacteria.
All three technologies will prepare us for the next pandemic by allowing us to intervene early, when the number of cases is still very low. But the underlying research will also assist us in fighting existing infectious diseases—and even help advance cures for cancer.
In the future, writes Gates, a mix of “national, regional, and global organizations” will help us fight the next pandemic.