Microsoft founder, Bill Gates has warned that coronavirus in Africa could overwhelm health services and trigger a pandemic which could cause 10 million deaths.
The Microsoft founder and global health pioneer was speaking at the AAAS meeting in Seattle just hours before the first case was confirmed in Cairo, Egypt.
There are now fears that the disease could spread to sub-Saharan Africa where it could spark an uncontrollable outbreak, with health services unable to monitor or control the virus.
Mr Gates said: “I wanted to talk about a special topic, which is this recent coronavirus epidemic.
“This is a huge challenge, we’ve always known the potential for a naturally caused, or intentionally caused, pandemic is one if the few things that could disrupt health systems and economies and cause more than 10 million excess deaths.
“This could be particularly if it spreads in areas like sub-Saharan Africa and some Asia, it could be very very dramatic.
“We’re doing the constant science to provide the tools to do the diagnosis to provide vaccines, to provide therapeutics and hopefully contain this epidemic, but it’s potentially a very bad situation.”
Mr Gates warned that there had been a huge underinvestment in anti-virals and called on China to ‘step-up’ and provide better drugs.
He said that although the world had become practiced a dealing with known diseases, such as Ebola, there was not enough thought about how to cope with emerging threats.
Mr Gates said coronovirus was more worrying than Ebola because although the death rate is not as high, it spreads far faster.
“Ebola is terrible, but it’s not like a lightning flu,” he said.
“This coronavirus has a lot of similarities to a very bad flu, in terms of the death rate, so far more like the 1957 flu outbreak.
”But this is way worse than a typical seasonal flu and of course we have no immunity.