I believe that COVID-19 can be the last pandemic.
I know that might be hard to believe while we’re still trying to get COVID under control. The last two years have caused unbelievable amounts of hardship around the world, and it’s not easy to feel optimistic when you’ve endured the misery that so many people have experienced. But whenever I see the suffering that COVID has created–every time I read about the latest death toll or hear about someone who lost their job or drive by a school that is closed—I can’t help but think: We don’t have to do this again.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and COVID has only made it clearer that the world needs to prioritize eliminating pandemics as a threat to humanity. I’ve been following COVID since the early days of the outbreak, working with experts from inside and out of the Gates Foundation who are championing a more equitable response and have been fighting infectious diseases for decades. I’ve learned a lot in the process—both about this pandemic and how we stop the next one—and I want to share what I’ve heard with people. So, I started writing a book about how we can make sure that no one suffers through a pandemic ever again.
The book is called How to Prevent the Next Pandemic. You can read it on May 3, 2022, and it’s being published by Knopf in the U.S. and Penguin Random House internationally.
In the book, I lay out the specific steps we can take to not only stop future pandemics but, in the process, provide better health care for everyone around the world. I outline the lessons we can learn from this pandemic, the innovations we need to save lives, and the new tools we need to stop pathogens early and equitably. I also tell you about my regular conversations with public health leaders like Anthony Fauci and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, my view of the vaccines that are stemming the tide, and what it’s been like to become the subject of conspiracy theories.
The goal of no more pandemics ever is ambitious, but the progress we’ve made over the last two years—including the huge leaps forward we’ve made with vaccines and the knowledge we’ve gained about respiratory illnesses—has already set us on a path to success. The world now understands how seriously we should take pandemics, and momentum is on our side. No one needs to be convinced that an infectious disease could kill millions of people or shut down the global economy. If we make the right choices and investments, we can make COVID-19 the last pandemic.