The Great New Outbreak. How we Could have Stopped It – A Response to Bill Gates

November 19th, 2020

From the past, humanity has learned and adapted to become stronger and better in all things; Military, agriculture, infrastructure, and especially medicine. There has been no point in history in which humans have had better medical technology and care than today. However, despite our impressive growth, we still lack the proper structures and teams needed in the case a massive epidemic occurs, and failing to properly learn from our past with previous epidemics — Such as the Spanish Flu relatively recently in 1918 — has lead to our current predicament with the COVID-19 Virus and its widespread carnage across the globe, forcing entire countries to close down in an ill attempt to try and stop the virus. Bill Gates states in his TED Talk, done in 2015, that we are completely unprepared if a super-virus were to germinate and cause a massive outbreak, as we have no specialists nor any programs set in place focused on the suppression of outbreaks, either within this country or in a foreign one. Due to a lack of funding and care towards this potential issue, none of these outbreak suppression teams have been created. During the Ebola incident in Africa, support was created in response to the virus, and while we managed to contain it with specialized teams, the massive amounts of deaths it brought could have been avoided if these response teams were already pre-established and ready to respond, rather than being fabricated after the Ebola virus spread. With today, as we face the COVID-19 Virus, we see a similar pattern emerge, in that as the virus spread across China and into surrounding countries, a response team was quickly created to try and stop it. Today, we see how such a plan has failed, for thousands die daily from this terrible virus. We needed to create proper preparations to ready ourselves against this threat years before it emerged, not right as it revealed its horrific self. The great outbreak which Bill Gates has predicted has occurred, and despite warnings from him and many others, we’ve failed to prepare ourselves.

Bill Gates’ call to action is extremely persuasive for his usage of real-life events. By recalling the Ebola incident and the Spanish Flu, he warns us of the potential the next outbreak may have and how we’re completely unprepared to face it. Millions will die as the new virus spreads, and we’ll scramble to try and protect ourselves by making quick and sloppy response teams far after thousands have died. We saw this very same issue today. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m currently living through this foreseen outbreak that I find this video harrowing, that we’ve had this knowledge for years, the insight that a super-virus will emerge, born from years of adaptation and now alien to our bodies, and will become a threat possibly similar in scale to the Spanish Flu, yet we did nothing to stop it. A main criticism I have for this TED Talk is Bill Gates’ lack of information regarding how we could build up these specialized responders. He gives suggestions in regards to using military forces, for they’re trained in technology that would be extremely useful in such cases, yet fails to detail how much it may cost to make these teams, how long it might take to establish — and on a personal note, how he himself didn’t say that he’ll assist in funding this — and more. His warning is simply a warning, nothing more, not a possible plan we could follow nor a guideline. Simply a yell into the dark about a threat, and nothing more.

This TED Talk proved to be possibly useful for my future career. As a journalist, it’s my goal to be assertive, persuasive, and detail any useful detail that I may find in order to assist my points or push my narrative. Bill Gates using previous outbreaks as examples and essentially combining them to detail the threat of the future outbreak and how ill prepared we are is an intelligent play. Using examples from history to teach others, as humans have been doing for all our lives, is a ploy that I must use in all persuasive works I create. Call to actions are best when there are examples of the consequences when one fails to act. 

-Aaron Wells