Tuesday 23 January 2018

Bioterrorists a bigger threat than nuclear weapons, warns Gates

Billionaire Bill Gates
Billionaire Bill Gates

Ben Farmer in Munich

Bioterrorists could kill hundreds of millions of people in an attack more deadly than nuclear war, Bill Gates will warn world leaders.

Rapid advances in genetic engineering have opened the door for small terrorist groups to tailor and easily turn biological viruses into weapons. A resulting disease pandemic is currently one of the most deadly threats faced by the world, he believes, yet governments are complacent about the scale of the risk.

Speaking ahead of an address to the Munich Security Conference, the richest man in the world said that while governments are concerned with the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons, they are overlooking the threat of biological warfare.

Mr Gates, whose charitable foundation is funding research into quickly spotting outbreaks and speeding up vaccine production, said the defence and security establishment "have not been following biology and I'm here to bring them a little bit of bad news".

Mr Gates will today tell an audience of international leaders and senior officers that the world's next deadly pandemic "could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist".

He said: "Natural epidemics can be extremely large. Intentionally caused epidemics, bioterrorism, would be the largest of all.

"With nuclear weapons you'd think you would probably stop after killing 100 million. Smallpox won't stop. Because the population is naive, there are no real preparations. That, if it got out and spread, would kill a larger number."

Irish Independent

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