Bill Gates warns coronavirus may be the 'once-in-a-century pathogen we've been worried about'

Bill Gates warns coronavirus may be the 'once-in-a-century pathogen we've been worried about'

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates wrote in an article published Friday that coronavirus may be the “once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.”

“I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise,” Gates wrote in the article, which was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gates' nonprofit, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focuses on fighting extreme poverty and improving global health. It announced at the beginning of February that it was donating $100 million to help find treatments and expand testing on the virus, CNBC reports.

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Gates, in his article, said that what makes COVID-19, the official name of the disease, concerning is that it is more contagious than other deadly diseases.

“First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems,” Gates wrote. “Second, Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase.”

He also noted that the mortality rate of the virus was higher than typical influenza. Depending on the quality of care that a patient receives, the mortality rate for the virus can range from 0.7 percent to 4 percent, Gates explained. Continuing, he said the average estimated mortality rate of the virus is currently about 1 percent.

For reference, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 1957 Asian flu pandemic (0.6 percent mortality rate) killed 1.1 million people and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (2 percent mortality rate) killed 50 million worldwide.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its coronavirus risk assessment to "very high," but said that the outbreak has yet to become a global pandemic.

There are more than 85,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide and almost 3,000 deaths – the vast majority in Mainland China, where the outbreak originated.