This is the lightly edited transcript of a conversation between Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the FT’s Vanessa Kortekaas, which took place on April 2, via Skype.
FINANCIAL TIMES: So I want to start by going back in time to five years ago. As many people know, you warned that the greatest risk of global catastrophe wasn’t a war, but a highly infectious virus. Why didn’t anybody listen? And if some people did, what was done to prepare for the pandemic that exists now?
BILL GATES: Well, not enough was done. A system wasn’t built. We didn’t really do the number of simulations to try and figure out, OK, how are we going to connect up the diagnostics? How are we going to get the vaccine going?
There were some investments. For example, our foundation, Wellcome Trust and a number of governments created Cepi (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation), which is about making vaccine platforms that are ready when we get surprised to manufacture a new vaccine faster than has been done in the past.
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