American billionaire, Bill Gates, has asked Nigeria and other countries around the world to start making preparation for the next global pandemic.
Speaking with TheCable on Tuesday, Gates said the COVID-19 pandemic might not be the world’s last pandemic it would experience.
Gates said the only way Nigeria can prepare for the next global pandemic is to invest more funds in its primary healthcare which he said is closer to the people.
He noted that more Nigerians lose their lives from lack of access to primary healthcare every year than the total number of deaths in Africa from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gates said: “I mean, the deaths from the deficits and primary health care are dramatically higher every year than the total deaths going on in Africa from this pandemic, and so I hope it causes everyone in society to look at these health issues.
“There should be close to 100% coverage of all the vaccines and you need to have those very functional primary health care systems because the number of lives you can save is absolutely huge.
“The unfortunate reality is that COVID‐19 might not be the last pandemic. We don’t know when the next one will strike, or whether it will be a flu, a coronavirus, or some new disease we’ve never seen before.
“But what we do know is that we can’t afford to be caught flat‐footed again. The threat of the next pandemic will always be hanging over our heads—unless the world takes steps to prevent it”.
Gates advised President Muhamadu Buhari to start planning to build a new vaccine factory which would help the country curb the spread of any pandemic.
He, however, noted that building a new vaccine factory can take more than five years.
According to Gates, the Nigerian government should better invest billions of dollars in preparing for the pandemic than to lose lives and trillions of dollars.
He said: “There are a very high-volume of factories in the developing world, primarily in Indonesia and India. Making a new vaccine factory is a more than five-year effort.
“Definitely, to be ready for the next pandemic, I think that there will be factories using this mRNA approach, that are put in multiple places in Africa so you’ll have guaranteed quick supply.
“The plan for the next round is to globally have lots of mRNA capacity, and to advance that technology so that it’s more scalable, more thermal-stable and cheaper, over the next five years, that should be possible if we get the rich countries to make large investments. I’ll certainly be a huge advocate for that”.