Even as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches its peak in many regions, Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, writes at the Economist that most of the story of the pandemic has yet to occur.
Gates notes that life in some regions may return to a sort of sub-normal state in which people venture out more, yet still avoid crowds, as researchers work on developing a vaccine. In a memo posted to his website, he notes there are a number of vaccine-development efforts underway. In that memo, he writes that global innovations will be key to limiting the damage caused by the pandemic.
He echoes that sentiment at the Economist. He writes that the pandemic may lead to advances in biomedical research that will help people cope with any future infectious disease outbreaks. In particular, he suspects there will be better at-home testing for disease and that there will be increased investment in antiviral drugs in the future.
Gates also predicts that, as World War II led to the establishment of institutions like the United Nations to prevent future wars, the COVID-19 pandemic might lead to increased international cooperation to prevent the next pandemic, as it has illustrated the interconnectedness of people and countries.
"None of this is inevitable. History doesn't follow a set course," Gates cautions at the Economist. "People choose which direction to take, and may make the wrong turn."