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Bill Gates makes shock Microsoft announcement

Bill Gates will step down from the Microsoft board. Image: Getty

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the board to spend more time on philanthropy and commit more time to the world’s “most pressing challenges”. 

Gates, 64, will also step away from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway board. He says he wants to dedicate more time to health promotion, education and climate change mitigation. 

“I am looking forward to this next phase as an opportunity to maintain the friendships and partnerships that have meant the most to me, continue to contribute to two companies of which I am incredibly proud, and effectively prioritise my commitment to addressing some of the world’s toughest challenges,” Gates said. 

One of the world’s richest men, Gates said he will continue to “engage” with Microsoft to shape the tech giant’s vision and goals. 

Gates had previously said that around 2001 he realised his goal was to “raise the visibility of global health”, and would consider retiring from Microsoft to achieve that goal.

Bill Gates’ coronavirus warning

Bill Gates has been warning about coronavirus for a long time. Image: Getty

Gates’ decision to spend more time on public health comes as the world faces an unprecedented challenge in the form of coronavirus, or Covid-19. 

Gates effectively predicted the crisis in 2015, and in 2019 he said the risk of a global pandemic keeps him up at night. 

The World Economic Forum, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security last year ran a simulation of a coronavirus outbreak which was transmitted from bats to pigs to people, and eventually to other people. 

That simulation suggested 65 million people could die within 18 months. 

Writing for the New England Journal of Medicine, Gates said Covid-19 is starting to behave like the “once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about”. 

“I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise.”

He said leaders have two responsibilities in a crisis: to solve the problem and prevent them from occurring again. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a case in point. We need to save lives now while also improving the way we respond to outbreaks in general. The first point is more pressing, but the second has crucial long-term consequences.”

The Foundation is currently increasing efforts to fund science and support for countries battling the pandemic and provide in-home testing kits for Seattle residents. 

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