While there's a pressing need to prevent deaths now from the COVID-19 coronavirus, the new disease reveals a separate important long-term challenge of improving how we respond to outbreaks, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates wrote in an editorial published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) founder said Western governments and others should join the Gates Foundation in trying to help poorer developing countries with preparation and response - because those countries won't be able to slow the virus down.
"By helping African and South Asian countries get ready now, we can save lives and slow the global circulation of the virus," Gates wrote.
He also said global officials and researchers need to speed up work on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, and then to create systems that in the future will allow for more quickly developing, testing and delivering vaccines and antivirals.
Also in the long term, Gates urged officials to invest in disease surveillance, including an instantly accessible case database and requirements that countries share information.
"That’s a tough challenge that presents technical, diplomatic, and budgetary obstacles, as well as demanding partnership between the public and private sectors," Gates wrote. "But all these obstacles can be overcome."
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