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Bio-terrorism could kill 30 million in a year

The former head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has warned that the world could be in great danger from bio-terrorism. He said the world could face a catastrophe from a virus made by terrorists that could kill 30 million people in less than a year. Mr Gates, the richest person in the world, was speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. He said there was a "reasonable" chance that a bio-terrorist could act in the next 10 to 15 years. He added that world leaders are not prepared for such an attack. He expressed his surprise that very few leaders were even aware of it. He asked for global "health security" to become a major part of government discussions and policies.

Mr Gates explained that: "The next epidemic has a good chance of originating on a computer screen." He said a genetically engineered virus was easier to make and could kill more people than nuclear weapons, but no country on Earth is ready for this threat. He asked governments, "to prepare for these epidemics in the same way we prepare for war". Gates asked governments to start "germ games" activities to prepare for a bio-terrorist attack, like many countries engage in war games. He said we needed better monitoring to spot outbreaks early, and systems to quickly develop vaccines - within weeks rather than years. "We need a new arsenal of weapons, anti-viral drugs, antibodies, vaccines and new diagnostics," he said.

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