Bill Gates at TED Connects: Our Top 10Takeaways


We joined the TED Connects circle last night to listen to Bill Gates. Why? Yes, he is super smart but he also gave this amazing TED talk on “The next outbreak?” with the message that we’re not ready in 2015. Well, we thought he would have great insights. Bill did not fail us. 

Here are our top 10 takeaways: 

  1. Bottom line: We are still not ready for the next pandemic but we will get ready! Science is on our side. 
  2. “Our goal is to get a small percentage of the population to get infected.” 
  3.  Unless you are an infrastructure worker, stay at home! For a country,  “isolation is key. The sooner you do it in a top way the sooner you can undo it.” 
  4. “There is no middle ground!” Gates explained. “It’s very tough to say to people, hey, keep going to restaurants, buying new houses and ignore those piles of bodies in the corner…I don’t know of any rich countries that have chosen to adopt that approach. We need extreme shut down in 6-8 weeks.” The shutdown will be harder for poorer countries. 
  5. When it comes to testing, “we are still not creating the capacity and applying it to the people most in need. Testing has to be organized and prioritized.” 
  6. “We should focus on treatment and isolation strategies. Testing is what we need to understand whether we need isolation. Testing and isolation are paired.” He added, “you may be able to aim it by  great testing and restricting the foreigners coming in without damaging the economy. Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand did this well. The U.S. has passed this opportunity. we need a shutdown, so we avoid the worst case.” 
  7. If Bill was the U.S. President, what would he do: “We have no choice but to maintain the isolation. We will use testing in the meantime.  This will not be easy. We need a clear message about that. it is really tragic that economic effects are very dramatic. Nothing like this has ever happened before in our lifetime. Bringing the economy back, that is more or less a reversible thing than bringing people back to life. We will take the pain in the economic dimension in order to minimize the pain in the disease and death dimension.” 
  8. The glass is half full. Bill says that “ people will have to step up to help each other. I am an optimist, this will draw us together, and we will get out this and get ready for the next epidemic.”
  9. Loved this one! “We have to isolate physically but our generosity needs to rise.” 
  10. Time will tell: 
    • The seasonality of the virus. Respiratory diseases are seasonal. We do not know how seasonal covid is.
    • Which vaccine is best!  There are vaccine projects all over the world and scientists are collaborating. 
    • How developing countries will deal with this pandemic. It is a wildcard. 
    • If countries that have been recovered could help other countries.

There was more food for thought. You can watch this TED Connects video and upcoming daily TED Connects program at this link.

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