Bill and Melinda Gates have been storing food in their basement for years in anticipation of a pandemic

Bill and Melinda Gates

  • Melinda Gates said in a BBC Radio interview on Thursday that she and her husband, Bill, have been preparing for a pandemic for “a number of years.”
  • Bill Gates said in a 2015 TED Talk that the world wasn’t “ready for the next epidemic” and wrote in a 2017 op-ed article for Business Insider that the next epidemic could be “a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.”
  • Since the coronavirus became a pandemic, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated at least $250 million to deploy medical supplies and to help scientists find treatments and a vaccine.

Melinda Gates said in an interview with BBC Radio on Thursday that she and her husband, Bill, had been storing food in their basements for years in anticipation of a pandemic or other disaster.

“A number of years ago, we had talked about, you know, what if there wasn’t clean water? What if there wasn’t enough food? Where might we go? What might we do as a family?” she said on the radio show. “So I think we should leave those preparations to ourselves. But absolutely we had prepared and had, you know, some food in the basement in case.”

The only thing they did not prepare, however, was the vaccine or a treatment for the virus that would cause a pandemic, though she acknowledged her and her family’s privilege when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

“What we mostly talk about now in our home every night is how lucky we are,” she continued. “We understand our privilege. And when we say our grace at night, what we’re thankful for, around the table, is that we aren’t struggling to put a meal on the table as so many families around the world are.”

Business Insider’s Debanjali Bose previously reported that Bill Gates has been warning about a pandemic for years, saying in a 2015 TED Talk that the world wasn’t “ready for the next epidemic” and repeating the sentiment in a 2017 op-ed article for Business Insider, where he wrote that the next epidemic could be “a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.

The Microsoft cofounder has been outspoken during the coronavirus pandemic, telling the Financial Times in early Aprilthat it would be the “biggest event” of most people’s lifetimes. He has been suggesting actions countries could take to help keep track of the virus, including creating an international database to share information with one another.

On Wednesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would provide $150 million in funding to help deploy additional medical supplies and to help scientists discover treatments and a vaccine for the virus. The foundation has donated a total of $250 million to aid global coronavirus response efforts.

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