Bill Gates, world CEO in time of coronavirus

Governments that have lacked transparency turn even more opaque, not only to the detriment of their own people but to that of all humanity.

Bill Gates (photo credit: ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS)
Bill Gates
(photo credit: ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS)
To successfully overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs a CEO. Not a standard chief executive like a prime minister, chancellor or president, but somebody who on a temporary basis will run the show and get things done. 
The current experiences of people around the world are staggering. From the concern for the elderly to the travails of online living, people in Milan, Tokyo, New York and Wuhan are sharing experiences not known in this or the previous century. There is a shared sense of a near-death experience and there is no way out. We are in this together.
Yet, the world is not joining hands. Unlike the experience of individuals, at the level of governments, things are largely going in the opposite direction. Sino-American tensions are at an all-time high. International sanctions remain in place even when the cost outdoes the original purpose. Governments that have lacked transparency turn even more opaque, not only to the detriment of their own people but to that of all humanity.
Everyone realizes that not only are the challenges shared in common, but the way out is completely dependent on international cooperation. However, nobody is willing or able to take the lead. 
The international system features institutions that are rich in knowledge but lack the capacity to enforce, coerce or lead in any real sense. The United Nations never turned into the world government some had hoped it would become. The World Health Organization, while filled with knowledge networks and plans, is unable to turn much of its potential into a reality. 
Time is short. If the pandemic is to be controlled, the world needs to come together very soon. 
How do you do that when institution-building takes years? You take shortcuts.
One such shortcut could be to use a worldwide celebrity with endless charisma, one who is perceived as both impartial and knowledgeable. If he and his wife happen to have a foundation that has spent millions on global public health and has been involved in advancing virology research, all the better. 
He should have a proven track record of worldwide innovative success, with offshoots present in almost every household around the world. His brand should be deeply trusted and as globally recognized as, say, Microsoft. And his business achievements, largely in the technological domain, should be largely perceived as untainted politically.
The future of humanity is on the line and the stakes could not be higher. One in five people in  the European Union live in countries in the south of the continent, where the pandemic got out of hand. The status of China and the USA in the world - and of Iran in the Middle East - will never be the same. 
Some countries will see life expectancy plummet, particularly in the developing world (where some three billion people live). The infrastructure of the global financial system is cracking. People are moving in droves to work, study, entertain themselves and become economically active online, maybe irrevocably.
Humanity cannot afford to let politics get in the way of meeting these challenges. A bottom-up movement that pressures leaders to forgo critical parts of their decision-making powers on a temporary basis is necessary. This is needed along with a top-down movement that recognizes the inability of nations to work alone by building fences around themselves. 
If two such movements could converge quickly, the momentum might forge the critical mass necessary to beat this pandemic. 
The world needs a CEO to make this happen. Bill Gates is the man for the job. I say that, and I'm a Mac person. 
And hey, if it’s not Gates now, before we know it, it might be Xi.
The writer is a professor of political science and head of the Center for the Study of the United States with the Fulbright program at Tel Aviv University, and a member of the Global Young Academy.