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Bill Gates warns tens of millions could be killed by bio-terrorism

Bill Gates warns tens of millions could be killed by bio-terrorism

Ewen MacAskill | The Guardian -- 

A chilling warning that tens of millions of people could be killed by bio-terrorism was delivered at the Munich security conference by the world’s richest man, Bill Gates

Gates, who has spent much of the last 20 years funding a global health campaign, said: “We ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril.”

Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who has spent billions in a philanthropic drive to improve health worldwide, 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.”

US and UK intelligence agencies have said that Islamic State has been trying to develop biological weapons at its bases in Syria and Iraq. However, they have played down the threat, saying that the terrorists would need people with the necessary skills, good laboratories and a relatively calm environment free from the confusion and chaos of conflict zones.

Yet other security specialists say the threat from bio-terrorism has become more realistic over the past decade, particularly the past five years, with changes in molecular biology that make development of biological weapons more accessible.

Gates, making his first appearance at the Munich security conference on Saturday, said: “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.”

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