In a speech at the Munich Security Conference, the billionaire compared the dangers to nuclear war and climate change.
Mr Gates said: “The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus, or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.
“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year – and they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.”
Mr Gates argued the link between health security and international security is overlooked, and criticised governments for failing to pay attention to such threats.
He said: “We ignore the link between health security and international security at our own peril.”
The Microsoft CEO warned chemical bioweapons posed a global threat to humanity
The Microsoft owner reminded the conference of the scale of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed up to 100 million people and infected almost half a billion others, according to estimates.
He added: “Most of the things we need to do to protect against a naturally occurring pandemic are the same things we must prepare for an intentional biological attack.
“I view the threat of deadly pandemics right up there with nuclear war and climate change.”
The Microsoft CEO has warned about the dangers of bioterrorism in the past
Mr Gates warned bioterrorism could kill 30 million people in one year
Mr Gates claimed adequate preparation could mitigate the risk of an epidemic.
He said the development of a medical “arsenal of new weapons” could be used to counter such a threat and that governments must “prepare or epidemics the way the military does for war”.
Meet the richest people on the planet Fri, October 28, 2016
There are 1810 billionaires worldwide and according to Forbes 2016 rich list, Bill Gates is still the richest person on the planet, along with Bill, here are a few others on that all-important list.
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Bill Gates – $75 billion: Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill dropped out of Harvard University and became the richest man in the world
The billionaire CEO also argued that reducing the time taken to create vaccines, along with surveillance and cooperation, are vital steps to preventing a pandemic – and that failure to prepare could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to recover.
Mr Gates has warned about bioterrorism in the past. In January, he gave a speech on the issue at the World Economic Forum in Sweden and told BBC radio about human vulnerabilities to fast-spreading diseases in December.
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