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The TED conference in Vancouver drew lots of attention. Bill Gates was the featured speaker. Yes, that Bill Gates, the one who is the voodoo doll of COVID conspiracies.

The Last Pandemic

It was his first time back at TED since 2015 when he gave a speech about how the world wasn’t ready for the next epidemic. 4.3 million people watched that talk, but 90% of the views came after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time no one in the audience needed to be convinced that a deadly virus could kill millions of people around the world and upend our lives.

His talk was all about how we can make COVID-19 the last pandemic. He believes we can eliminate the threat of pandemics completely if we approach infectious diseases like we approach fighting fires. Then he told the story of how firefighting started.

The Birth of Firefighting

In the year 6 CE, a fire devastated Rome. In response Emperor Augustus did something that had never been done in the history of the Empire. He created a permanent team of firefighters who used buckets to fight fires. Augustus understood that individuals alone can’t protect themselves from fires. They need help from the community. When one person’s house is on fire that creates a risk for everyone else’s. homes.

Over time we’ve gotten good at preventing big fires. Fire prevention is kind of this pervasive thing. It’s well funded. It’s well understood. When a fire alarm goes off, we know that help will be on the way because we have lots of trained firefighters. Edmonton fire rescue receives 53,000 calls a year. In Calgary alone there are 16,000 firefighters.

The Birth of Pandemic Fighting

What we’ve had these last few years is like a horrific global fire. The COVID pandemic has killed millions and upended economies, and we want to stop that from happening again.

Bill Gates focused on what he calls the GERM—Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization—team. A new, full-time, paid group whose entire job is to prepare for the next outbreak. The world needs the infectious disease equivalent of firefighters—a group of in-country and global epidemiologists, data scientists, logistics experts, and more who are ready to go anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.

See pictures from the exhibit at TED called “The Last Pandemic.”

We live in interesting times. There is a felt need to develop pandemic readiness plans. Research from Duke University shows the probability of novel disease outbreaks will likely grow three-fold in the next few decades. Bill’s ideas may well help our grandchildren be prepared better than we were to face COVID-19.

See what Bill shared at TED.

What do you think of Bill’s ideas? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below. thank you.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers


  • Julie MacKenzie says:

    I found that Ted Talk so interesting Pastor Bob. I think there should be a group of scientists that are brought together to brainstorm, if another virus as serious as COVID, ever resurfaces again. (All experts in their fields.) GERM will certainly help us be more prepared in the future. Bill Gates is a genius. Thank you for sharing this blog with us.

  • Manuela Kesseler says:

    Bill Gates is definitely an intelligent business man. And the firefighting argument or example is very compelling. What he says makes sense. But then so does the use of a micro chip for buying and selling. And so will the “Mark of the Beast” to most when it comes. We need to be very cautious in whom we place our trust and ask God for great discernment.
    Not everything that makes sense and sounds good is right.
    Bill Gates, as George Soros, are globalists.
    I choose to put my 100% trust only in Jesus.
    If Bill Gates too speaks and acts out of a heart of love, and not self-promotion, then I respect Him. May God be His judge.

  • Jordan Majeau says:

    What I’ve come to appreciate about his approach to this challenge is his focus on real-world strategy. He always seems to come to the table with solutions that people from all walks of life can embrace.

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