Coronavirus: Bill Gates Urges Total Shutdown To Halt Covid-19 Spread

Bill Gates, the former CEO and co-founder of software giant Microsoft, has called for a total shutdown in the United States to halt to the spread of Coronavirus.

In a video interview with CNN, Gates said that it should not be left up to individual US states or counties, to decide whether to implement a total lockdown. Gates said that a nationwide lock-down was needed now, and that most cases of the virus will peak in late April.

If true, this means that any lockdown to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus will likely last much longer, possibly all the way into late June.

Previous warnings

The warning from Bill Gates comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and health secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for Coronavirus.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has shown symptoms.

Besides his tech credentials, Gates is a well known philanthropist and is a co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which does a lot good in the world including fighting polio and malaria.

What gives his call for a total shutdown in the United States a great deal of weight, is that for the past ten years Gates has been warning the world of the dangers posed by a global pandemic.

Gates it should be noted what not alone here. He has been joined by many epidemiologists who have repeatedly warned the world is woefully underprepared for an inevitable pandemic.


For example, in January 2010 Bill Gates wrote in his blog about the H1N1 swine flu pandemic that killed approximately 18,000 back in 2009.

“But the real story isn’t how bad H1N1 was,” Gates wrote in 2010. “The real story is that we are lucky it wasn’t worse because we were almost completely unprepared for it.”

“Hopefully this outbreak will serve as a wakeup call to get us to invest in better capabilities, because more epidemics will come in the decades ahead and there is no guarantee we will be lucky next time,” Gates wrote in 2010.


Unfortunately, it seems the world was not paying attention and in 2015 Bill Gates used his talk at the annual TED conference in Vancouver, Gates to warn the world again of the dangers.

His TED talk was bluntly titled “The Next Outbreak? We’re Not Ready.” A YouTube video of his talk can be found here.

“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,” he said in 2015.

It won’t be missiles, but rather microbes,” he famously said five years ago, before warning about how the world still had not prepared for a pandemic.

Gates made the comments as parts of Africa at the time were battling deadly Ebola epidemic.

“You can have a virus where people feel well enough while they’re infectious that they get on a plane or they go to a market,” he said.

This last point is exactly what makes the Coronavirus so dangerous today.


But Gates wasn’t finished just yet.

In December 2016 in an interview with the BBC, he said he crosses his fingers all the time that “some epidemic like a big flu doesn’t come along in the next 10 years” because of how vulnerable the world was (and is).


Then in 2017 when Gates gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference, an annual conference on international security policy, he noted that epidemiologists have said a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year, and could occur in the next 10 to 15 years.

“I view the threat of deadly pandemics right up there with nuclear war and climate change.” Gates said. “Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe.”


Then in April 2018 when Gates gave the Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual Shattuck Lecture, he warned that the next epidemic is coming.

“Four years ago, the world was stunned by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” he said. “Panic broke out all over the globe. Governments scrambled to contain the infection. By the time the last patient tested negative for the disease, the outbreak claimed thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in economic losses.”

“The 2014 Ebola outbreak was a stark reminder of how vulnerable our society is to epidemics of infectious diseases,” said Gates. “We weren’t ready then, and we’re still not ready now – but we can be. We don’t know when the next epidemic will strike, but I believe we can protect ourselves if we invest in better tools, a more effective early detection system, and a more robust global response system.”

Certain countries, most notably South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are widely regarded by coping well with Covid-19, due to their preparations.

Perhaps now when Bill Gates issues warnings, Western governments and authorities will be more inclined to listen him.

Quiz: How well do you know Microsoft?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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