‘We’ve not seen the WORST of Covid’: Bill Gates warns of the risk for an ‘even more fatal’ variant

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Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has warned there is a ‘way above five percent’ risk the world has not yet seen the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The tech mogul and philanthropist said he did not want to sound ‘doom and gloom’ but warned there was a risk an ‘even more transmissive and even more fatal’ variant could be generated.

‘We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,’ Gates told The Financial Times on Saturday. 

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‘It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5 percent risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it.’

It is not the first time he has made such a prediction. In December 2021, he warned his millions of Twitter followers to brace themselves for the worst part of the pandemic having previously cautioned in 2015 that the world was not ready for the next pandemic.

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (pictured on February 18, 2022) has warned there is a 'way above five per cent' risk the world has not yet seen the worst of the Covid pandemic

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (pictured on February 18, 2022) has warned there is a ‘way above five per cent’ risk the world has not yet seen the worst of the Covid pandemic

The variants of Covid-19 and the countries from which they were reported to have emerged

The variants of Covid-19 and the countries from which they were reported to have emerged

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COVID has killed an estimated 6.2 million people worldwide since March 2020, but case numbers and deaths have been dropping in recent weeks

COVID has killed an estimated 6.2 million people worldwide since March 2020, but case numbers and deaths have been dropping in recent weeks

COVID has killed an estimated 6.2 million people worldwide since March 2020, but case numbers and deaths have been dropping in recent weeks.

Gates’ warning comes after Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), this week warned that people still needed to be weary of the virus, and that decreases in overall testing and COVID surveillance in many countries have left the world at risk to a resurgence of the virus. 

Gates – who releases his new book How to Prevent the Next Pandemic on Tuesday – advised governments across the world to invest in a team of epidemiologists and computer modelers to help identify global health threats in the future.

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He called his plan the Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization initiative and said it should be managed by the WHO – the only body he claimed was capable to build and manage the ‘top-notch’ team of experts at a cost of around $1billion per year.

‘The current WHO funding is not at all serious about pandemics,’ Gates said, adding that ‘less than 10 full-time people’ were working on outbreak preparedness and ‘even those people are distracted with many other activities’.

Gates' comments come as COVID cases in the U.S. continue to grow, rebounding after months of declines coming off of the massive winter Omicron-surge

Gates’ comments come as COVID cases in the U.S. continue to grow, rebounding after months of declines coming off of the massive winter Omicron-surge

Like the surge this winter, deaths have remained low despite a rise in cases, showing the decreasing danger the virus poses as more mild strains continue to circulate

Like the surge this winter, deaths have remained low despite a rise in cases, showing the decreasing danger the virus poses as more mild strains continue to circulate

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Following the Omicron-surge, daily cases continued to plummet down to 30,000 per day, where the figure sat for weeks in mid-April

Following the Omicron-surge, daily cases continued to plummet down to 30,000 per day, where the figure sat for weeks in mid-April

Gates’ comments come as COVID cases in the U.S. continue to grow, rebounding after months of declines coming off of the massive winter Omicron-surge. 

Like the surge this winter, deaths have remained low despite a rise in cases, showing the decreasing danger the virus poses as more mild strains continue to circulate.

The nation is currently averaging 60,251 COVID cases every day, a 52 percent jump over the past week – and the first time the 60,000 mark was reached since March 1. In the time since then, daily cases continued to plummet down to 30,000 per day, where the figure sat for weeks in mid-April.

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Deaths from the virus are at one of their lowest points during the pandemic, even as cases begin to sharply rise once more. 

The nation is averaging 327 deaths from the virus every day at the moment, a ten percent drop over the past week – maintaining the least deadly period of the pandemic since August 2021.

Despite the overall mortality of the virus having faltered in recent months, U.S. regulators are still pushing to expand vaccine eligibility to include children aged six months to five years old, and to even open up fourth doses to all Americans.

Two weeks ago, the CDC began to officially track the new BA.2.12.1 strain - a sub-variant of the 'stealth' variant. It first emerged in New York last month. (Pictured: A pop-up COVID testing site in Times Square on April 27, 2022)

Two weeks ago, the CDC began to officially track the new BA.2.12.1 strain – a sub-variant of the ‘stealth’ variant. It first emerged in New York last month. (Pictured: A pop-up COVID testing site in Times Square on April 27, 2022)

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COVID cases have more than doubled over the past two weeks in eight U.S. states, with the cases even tripling in West Virginia.

These case rises are largely attributable to the BA.2 ‘stealth’ variant, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant that erupted over the winter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the strain makes up 68 percent of COVID cases in the U.S.

Another version of the variant is beginning to emerge as well. Two weeks ago, the CDC began to officially track the new BA.2.12.1 strain – a sub-variant of the ‘stealth’ variant. 

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It first emerged in New York last month, before becoming the dominant strain in the region, and spreading across much of the rest of the country. The strain makes up 28 percent of total cases in America.

The rate of COVID-19 deaths in New York City, the hardest struck city in the world by the virus, has shrunk to only two per day, as the virus recedes in America and a majority of the population heads towards a return to ‘normal’.

The U.S. reported a 52 percent jump in COVID cases over the past week - and the first time the 60,000 mark was reached since March 1

The U.S. reported a 52 percent jump in COVID cases over the past week – and the first time the 60,000 mark was reached since March 1

The U.S. reported a percent drop in COVID deaths over the past week - maintaining the least deadly period of the pandemic since August 2021

The U.S. reported a percent drop in COVID deaths over the past week – maintaining the least deadly period of the pandemic since August 2021

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The WHO has been among the more cautious, even contrarian, voices throughout the pandemic, continues to issue grave warnings about the state of the virus while many began to enjoy dips between surges.

‘[Rolling back of COVID surveillance] makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution. But this virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it. It’s still spreading, it’s still changing, and it’s still killing,’ Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.

The U.S. is currently averaging 60,251 COVID cases every day, a 52 percent jump over the past week. The nation is also averaging 327 deaths from the virus every day

The U.S. is currently averaging 60,251 COVID cases every day, a 52 percent jump over the past week. The nation is also averaging 327 deaths from the virus every day

Across America, and in some parts of Europe, COVID testing and tracking has been significantly scaled back as officials move to divert funding that went into pandemic related efforts elsewhere.

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In the U.S., funding used to cover the costs of free testing for many Americans has been pulled. Hospital treatment for the virus is no longer covered by the federal government either. Cuts to testing have been so severe that some experts warn over 90 percent of cases may be going undetected in the U.S.

‘The threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real – and although deaths are declining, we still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive,’ Ghebreyesus continued.

‘When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss. WHO continues to call on all countries to maintain surveillance.’  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and one of the other most-cautious voices during the pandemic is even starting to relax on the state of the virus.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured Tuesday), said during a PBS NewsHour interview that America is beyond the pandemic, though it is still existing elsewhere in the world. The next day he backtracked on his comments, saying 'we certainly can't say the pandemic is over'

Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured Tuesday), said during a PBS NewsHour interview that America is beyond the pandemic, though it is still existing elsewhere in the world. The next day he backtracked on his comments, saying ‘we certainly can’t say the pandemic is over’ 

On Tuesday, he told PBS NewsHour that America is beyond the pandemic, though it is still existing elsewhere in the world.

‘If you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don’t know how often that would have to be,’ he said.

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‘That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low. But, right now, we are not in the pandemic phase in this country. Pandemic means a widespread, throughout the world, infection that spreads rapidly among people.

‘If you look at the global situation, there’s no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing.’

He then backtracked on his statements the next night, telling CBS News his comments had been misconstrued.

‘We certainly can’t say the pandemic is over,’ he said Wednesday. ‘It is not over.’

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