The co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Bill Gates, has called on governments around the world, including Nigeria, to start preparing for the next pandemic.
During an interview with TheCable, Gates said a country like Nigeria needs to invest more in primary healthcare to ensure it is well prepared for the next global pandemic.
The American billionaire said more people die in Nigeria from primary healthcare deficit every year than the total number of deaths in Africa from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I mean, the deaths from the deficits and primary health care are dramatically higher every year than the total deaths going on in Africa from this pandemic, and so I hope it causes everyone in society to look at these health issues,” Gates told TheCable.
“There should be close to 100% coverage of all the vaccines and you need to have those very functional primary health care systems because the number of lives you can save is absolutely huge.”
On Wednesday, Bill and Melinda Gates released their customary annual letter to talk about successes, challenges, and the state of the world in the new year.
For 2021, Gates said the COVID-19 pandemic might not be the world’s last pandemic, emphasizing that governments around the world need to start investing tens of billions of dollars in healthcare to stop the next pandemic.
“The unfortunate reality is that COVID‐19 might not be the last pandemic. We don’t know when the next one will strike, or whether it will be a flu, a coronavirus, or some new disease we’ve never seen before,” Gates said.
“But what we do know is that we can’t afford to be caught flat‐footed again. The threat of the next pandemic will always be hanging over our heads—unless the world takes steps to prevent it”.
Gates has asked the Nigerian government to increase investments in healthcare
Speaking on Nigeria’s plan for local vaccine production, Gates said making a new vaccine factory can take more than five years. He advised that Nigeria or any country in Africa could plan ahead for the next pandemic.
“There are a very high-volume of factories in the developing world, primarily in Indonesia and India. Making a new vaccine factory is a more than five-year effort
“Definitely, to be ready for the next pandemic, I think that there will be factories using this mRNA approach, that are put in multiple places in Africa so you’ll have guaranteed quick supply.
He said there are vaccine factories that can help with the COVID-19 vaccines and the world “can’t get new ones overnight”.
“The plan for the next round is to globally have lots of mRNA capacity, and to advance that technology so that it’s more scalable, more thermal-stable and cheaper, over the next five years, that should be possible if we get the rich countries to make large investments. I’ll certainly be a huge advocate for that”.
Gates said the world now knows “the cost of a pandemic,” and in this case, that “has been tens of trillions of dollars, and a negative impact in terms of education and mental health that we have a hard time measuring”
He said it will be better to invest billions of dollars in preparing for the pandemic than to lose lives and trillions of dollars.
The 65-year-old who said he took the COVID-19 jab some days ago also told journalists that he ended up getting the Moderna vaccine.
“I had no choice, they don’t ask what your preference is. There are only two vaccines approved in the United States right now, Pfizer and Moderna. They’re both very good vaccines and very safe,” he added.
Gates said the more people learn about vaccines, the more amazed they should be about how fantastic they are
“I hope people will read the facts about vaccines, and how they’ve worked against other diseases, and see that now we have millions and millions of people who’ve taken this vaccine and we’re tracking that experience to make sure we were right about the overall safety.
The public health advocate said it is going to be a tragedy if a country continues to have an epidemic because of these false vaccine rumours.