Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. File/Reuters
Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates says he has been taken aback by the volume of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories about him spreading on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said on Wednesday he would like to explore what is behind them.
In an interview with Reuters, Gates said the millions of online posts and “crazy conspiracy theories” about him and about top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had likely taken hold in part because of the combination of a frightening viral pandemic and the rise of social media.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Gates said.
“I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away.”
Gates, a billionaire who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft Corp in 2014, has through his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed at least $1.75 billion to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes support for some makers of vaccines, diagnostics and potential treatments.
Since the pandemic began a year ago, millions of conspiracies have spread over the Internet, fuelling misinformation about the coronavirus, its origins and the motives of those working to fight it.
They include claims that Fauci and Gates created the pandemic to try and control people, that they want to profit from the virus’ spread, and that they want to use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people.
“But do people really believe that stuff?,” Gates asked.
“We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand .. how does it change peoples’ behaviour and how should we have minimized this?”
EXCITED ABOUT BIDEN
Gates praised Fauci and Francis Collins, head of the US National Institutes of Health, as “smart” and “wonderful people,” and said he looked forward to seeing them able to work effectively and speak the truth under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
During former President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, Gates said, it had “sometimes felt like they were the only sane people in the US government.”
“I’m excited about the team that Biden has picked” to tackle the health crisis, Gates said.
Gates said he was also pleased that under Biden, the United States has rejoined the World Health Organization, and “that he’s appointed smart people, and the fact that Dr. Fauci won’t be suppressed.”
One fun part of this pandemic has been the conspiracy theories, and if you’re not involved in any, you’re missing out on a unique opportunity.
On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris and Senate Democrats took another step toward delivering much-needed pandemic aid to the American people, with Harris casting
The US has undertaken a full-frontal drive to vaccinate its citizens across the country. This is because many Americans have almost reached a breaking point because of the pandemic.
According to a statement issued by Air India Express, additional requirements for passengers arriving into the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khamiah airports must conduct PCR tests on the 4th and 8the day after arrival, while quarantine at home.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced 1,508 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 688,489.
Since she turned 80, she has been walking about 600 metres daily to the mosque, to memorise the Qur’an verses by listening as she could not read or write.
The move was in response to measures designed to help slow a Delta variant-fuelled surge in infections that has put pressure on Pakistan's poor health infrastructure as queues for inoculations stretched more than a kilometre in some locations this week.