Bill Gates: Wars kill, but epidemics can kill more, and we are not ready for them

Fahad Al-Riyami

Bill Gates: We should be more afraid of epidemics than world wars

Countries around the world spend hundreds of billions on military equipment, so that they can protect citizens from terrorist organizations and potential human-based conflicts. But Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, speaking to Vox, thinks that funding is misplaced, as the real threat – based on the probability of occurrence – lies on a microscopic level.

1919, the Spanish flu has taken more lives than World War I. An estimated 65 million have died because of the pandemic that was mostly spread by the close proximity of troops in war camps, which served as a perfect environment for the virus to mutate in.

“There’s two kinds of flus, there’s flus that spread between humans very effectively, and there’s flus that kill a lot of people, and those two properties have only been combined into a widespread flu once in history” – Bill Gates

Using an epidemic modeling system that Bill Gates funded to help with his Polio eradication efforts, the Microsoft technology adviser simulated the effects of a modern-day Spanish flu-like disease. Even with today’s advanced health system factored in, the results are equally as devastating, largely because of our modern transportation systems that carry viruses long distances in short amounts of time. Check out the simulation in the video above, it is absolutely terrifying.  

While Ebola wasn’t as deadly as mainstream media might have led you to believe, it did spread relatively quickly, and Gates thinks that the outbreak is proof that we are still not ready to effectively combat deadly epidemics.

Bill Gates: We should be more afraid of epidemics than world wars

“We don’t need to invest nearly what we do in military preparedness… and we may not get many more warnings like [Ebola] to say it’s a pretty modest investment to avoid something in terms of the human condition would be a gigantic setback.”

Do you think more funding should be allocated to medical research and development than military operations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.