Coronavirus prediction: How Bill Gates warned world of a deadly epidemic - 'Not ready'

has infected more than 3.01 million people since November, forcing entire countries to shut off from the world. The virus responsible for COVID-19 has spread to every corner of the world, killing at least 209,661 people as of April 27. But there have been many warnings to brace for a major virus or flu pandemic after the 2002 to 2003 SARS outbreak.

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was also caused by a member of the coronavirus family.

One of the most prominent voices calling for global readiness against future pandemics is Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, 64.

Mr Gates has said in the past the world is not ready for a major outbreak of an unknown virus.

In 2015, Mr Gates wrote on his blog GatesNotes: "The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example — that infects large numbers of people very quickly.

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"Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic.

"But I believe we can prevent such a catastrophe by building a global warning and response system for epidemics.

"It would apply the kind of planning that goes into national defence — systems for recruiting, training, and equipping health workers; investments in new tools; etc. — to the effort to prevent and contain outbreaks."

The billionaire's comments were prompted by the outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever Ebola in western Africa.

That same year, the tech mogul gave a TED Talk about the dangers posed by unknown viruses and what lessons can be drawn from past epidemics.

Mr Gates argued outbreaks like the Spanish Flu of 1918 are proof of how deadly viruses can be.

"The source of the virus could be a natural epidemic like Ebola, or it could be bioterrorism.

"So there are things that would literally make things a thousand times worse."

Scientists fear many coronavirus infections go unnoticed through so-called asymptomatic carriers - infected people who not show any symptoms.

And in an opinion piece for The New York Times, from March 2015, Mr Gates urged countries to invest more money in vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests.

He wrote: "According to the World Bank, a worldwide flu epidemic would reduce global wealth by $3trillion, not to mention the immeasurable misery caused by millions of deaths.

"Preventing such a catastrophe is well worth the world’s time and attention."

Mr Gates even published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the paper, he wrote: "I am concerned that as the intensity of the problem fades from the world’s attention, we will miss the opportunity to learn from the Ebola epidemic and be better prepared for the next one.

"Even if the system we have today worked perfectly, it would not contain a more infectious disease."

More recently, Mr Gates spoke to CNN's Fareed Zakaria about the possible timeline for a coronavirus vaccine to appear.

The billionaire said it will take up to two years for a COVID-19 drug to be developed.

He said: "The idea of being in manufacture before the end of the year, that's beyond what's likely."

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