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Billionaire Bill Gates claims the Covid pandemic set world progress on other diseases back decades in the space of just 25 weeks.
The co-founder of Microsoft made the claim in a new book and said governments had to "pull people and money away from other priorities" to battle the pandemic.
He added that vaccination rates in 2020 dropped to levels last seen in the 1990s, which will cause problems for future generations.
The business giant said rich countries, such as the UK, the United States, and European nations, should now invest in strengthening world healthcare to be better prepared for another pandemic.
Writing in How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, Gates said: "Globally, Covid-19 has undone decades of progress on poverty and disease.
"As governments moved to deal with the pandemic, they had to pull people and money away from other priorities, including vaccination programmes.
"A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that in 2020, vaccination rates dropped to levels last seen in the 1990s.
"We lost 25 years of progress in about 25 weeks."
Gates' claims mirror a statement made by the World Health Organisation which said Covid "substantially hindered" routine immunisation services in at least 68 countries.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: "Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools in the history of public health, and more children are now being immunised than ever before.
"But the pandemic has put those gains at risk. The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunisations could be far greater than Covid-19 itself. But it doesn't have to be that way.
"Vaccines can be delivered safely even during the pandemic, and we are calling on countries to ensure these essential life-saving programmes continue."
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Gates also explores climate change in the book and said he is "optimistic" that the world will make "real progress on climate change" once Covid is under control.
He even admits that he once took a private jet to a meeting on climate change, and said people of all incomes will have to change their lifestyles to commit to the problem.
The billionaire writes: "The year 2020 was a huge and tragic setback. But I am optimistic that we will get Covid-19 under control in 2021.
"And I'm more optimistic that we'll make real progress on climate change – because the world is more committed to solving this problem than it has ever been."
- Bill Gates
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