Last year, as the Ebola epidemic appeared to be contained, Bill Gates warned, "There is a significant chance that an epidemic of a substantially more infectious disease will occur sometime in the next 20 years."
That same month, the spread of the Zika virus was linked to the harrowing increase in microcephaly among babies in Brazil — at a rate nearly 20 times greater than in previous years. The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency, but there were no anti-virals and no vaccines to battle the outbreak. The next epidemic was here, but we were no better prepared than we had been for Ebola.
The devastation imparted by the Zika virus, portrayed in the haunting images of babies with severe birth defects, is the latest example of the urgent need to better support medical research so we can respond effectively to new infectious diseases.