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By Reuters Fact Check
14 Min Read
Social media users have been sharing posts online that list claims about Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.
The post here looks like a poster of a “wanted” individual and lists 8 points about why Gates “must be stopped”.
The points also include opinion and several other assertions which are beyond the scope of this check.
The post says that Gates funded and planned the COVID-19 pandemic at Event 201 on Oct. 19, 2019. Reuters Fact Check previously debunked this claim here .
In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security with partners, the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a pandemic tabletop exercise called “Event 201”.
The event simulated an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people and that leads to a severe pandemic (here) . The exercise served to “highlight preparedness and response challenges” that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic (here) .
However, in response to questions about whether the exercise predicted the current pandemic, Johns Hopkins said that: “For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction” (here).
“Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019,” they added.
But the fact the exercise took place isn’t unexpected or unusual. John Hopkins said that the event was organized in light of the world seeing a “growing number of epidemic events” (here ) . Another simulation by WHO can be seen here .
The post claims that Gates is a major funder of the Pirbright Institute in the United Kingdom and that the institute owns the patent of the COVID-19 virus. Reuters Fact Check previously debunked the claim that the institute holds the patent for the COVID-19 vaccine, here .
Pirbright is funded, the institute disclosed, by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation (BBSRC UKRI). According to a statement, Pirbright also receives funding from a number of other organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Pirbright does not have a patent for either a COVID-19 vaccine or virus.
Pirbright does hold a patent, but this covers a type of weakened coronavirus that could potentially be used as a vaccine to prevent respiratory diseases affecting animals. Pirbright specifies that funding for its work on this patent was not from the Gates Foundation.
In January 2020, Pirbright addressed this misinformation on its website. According to the institute, its research primarily focuses on respiratory diseases affecting poultry and pigs, including the infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and the deltacoronavirus. “Pirbright does not currently work with human coronaviruses,” the website states. “We have not yet developed an IBV vaccine, but research is ongoing.” ( here)
The post claims that Gates funded pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental malaria vaccine and it killed 151 African infants while causing paralysis, seizures, and convulsions in thousands more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) told AFP Fact Check here that while the malaria vaccine is associated with an increased risk of febrile seizures within seven days of administration, children who experienced the seizures recovered completely with no long-term effects in the final trial phase.
An article discussing the results of the phase 3 trial of the vaccine program here says that 151 children died during the trial but that causes of death were similar in both the group that received the vaccine and the control group. More details on the causes of death can be seen in table 11 on page 53 here .
The post claims that Gates’ meningitis vaccine “forced on African children” caused paralysis in over 50 children. Fact checker Africa Check debunked this claim, here .
An article here , explains that the claim began when vaccinated children became ill in the final phase of an otherwise successful vaccination campaign near Gouro, Chad. The article explains that the campaign was stopped on Dec. 11, 2012 and a local journalist posted a story on Dec. 22, 2012 saying that 40 children had become severely ill, some with paralysis. The story was reposted by an online national news channel and eventually picked up by European and U.S. anti-vax activists.
An investigation by an international team of clinicians and epidemiologists found that there were no cases of paralysis and the children recovered, according to the article. The experts determined that the cause of the illnesses was “mass psychogenic illness”, a phenomenon where a group of people begin feeling ill at the same time. Examples of other instances of this can be seen here and here , related to vaccination campaigns taking place during political instability and mistrust.
The social media post also says that Gates’ experimental polio vaccine paralyzed 490,000 children. The WHO explains in a document: here that the oral polio vaccine is safe and effective for immunizing children against polio, with very rare occasions leading to vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) or vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV).
On very rare occasions, a strain of poliovirus in the vaccine might change into a form that can cause paralysis. When this form develops the ability for sustained person-to-person transmission and circulates in the environment, it is referred to as circulating vaccine derived poliovirus (cVDPV).
According to a WHO database here , there have been 17 cases of cVDPV in India between the years 2000 and 2020. AFP Fact Check addressed these claims here .
Reuters was unable to find evidence that the polio vaccine paralyzed around half a million children in India. It is unclear where the number originated from, but a now-deleted post archive.ph/oNRO6 listing claims with a similar number was shared on April 8, 2020 by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy, the nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was banned on Instagram for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about COVID-19 here .
India was declared polio free by the World Health Organization in March 2014 after an almost two-decade long, multi-million dollar effort — lauded as one of the country’s biggest public health achievements in recent times (here).
The post says that in 2014, Gates funded an experimental HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on 23,000 girls in India, where seven died and 1200 suffered side effects.
An article in Science Magazine here explains that several months into the trial, news organizations reported the deaths of seven girls, causing the government to stop the trial.
According to the article, investigators found that five of the deaths were due to reasons unrelated to the vaccine – with a snake bite, two suicides and one malaria complication. Two other girls died from a high fever and cerebral hemorrhage, both unlikely to be linked to the vaccine.
The post also claims that Gates’ $10 billion funding for the WHO allowed them to chemically sterilize millions of Kenyan women with a tetanus vaccine. This claim is similar to another, that Gates believes in sterilization and population control, previously debunked by Reuters here .
There is no evidence to support this claim that has been debunked by fact checkers AFP here , Africa Check here and Snopes here .
The WHO dismissed concerns about the vaccine’s safety here , explaining that the vaccine does not contain the HCG hormone which was claimed as an ingredient in this tetanus shot, allegedly causing infertility.
The post says that Gates funded John Hopkins University experiments that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases for vaccine and drug testing.
Reminiscent of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study (here), the United States apologized in 2010 for the experiment conducted in the 1940s in Guatemala, in which U.S. government researchers deliberately infected Guatemalans with syphilis (here).
Johns Hopkins explains on its website here. that the experiment was conducted by the U.S. government in the 1940s and the institution did not initiate, finance, direct or conduct it.
As Gates was not born at the time, it would have been impossible for him to fund this experiment.
Some claims made in the post include some truths – for example, the Gates Foundation has come under criticism for working with agriculture giant Monsanto (who endorse genetically modified crops, here , here ).
Other claims, for example that the Gates Foundation’s investments in international health organizations lead to influence, are beyond the scope of this fact check.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gates has been a constant target of disinformation ( here , here ). In an interview with Reuters in January 2021 here , he said he was taken aback by the volume of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories about him spreading on social media during the pandemic and would like to explore what is behind them.
False. Bill Gates poster includes multiple falsities.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays.
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