Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has admitted that he is indeed surprised by the amount of “crazy and evil” conspiracy theories about him that have spread on social media over the course of the yearlong coronavirus pandemic.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” he told Reuters. “I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away.”
Gates, who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in 2014, has already committed nearly $2 billion through his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to assist in the global response to the ongoing pandemic.
Some of the well-known conspiracy theories that have circulated on the internet include claims that Fauci and Gates created the pandemic to control populations and governments and that they aim to financially profit from the spread of the disease.
“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 people’s behavior and how should we have minimized this?”
The Microsoft co-founder, who has been warning about the threat of a global pandemic since 2015, added that he is pleased that under President Joe 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.”
Gates had previously defended himself after a poll from a Yahoo News/YouGov survey revealed that 28 percent of American adults actually believe theories claiming that he would implant microchips in billions of people to monitor their movements.
“We need to get the truth out there,” he said in an interview on CBS News. “I hope it’ll die down as people get the facts.”
Gates has also long voiced his concern that the potentially life-saving coronavirus vaccine doses won’t reach many of the world’s poor.
In The Goalkeepers Report released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, modeling from Northeastern University was used to forecast that twice as many people could die from the pandemic if wealthy countries decide to hoard the first two billion vaccine doses.
“It shouldn’t just be the rich countries winning a bidding war (for a coronavirus vaccine),” he said during a recent conference call with reporters. “Misallocating the vaccine would cause dramatic additional deaths.”
The eye-opening report also noted that the pandemic disproportionately impacts women, racial and ethnic minority groups, and those living in extreme poverty.
“The pandemic, in almost every dimension, made inequity worse,” Gates said. “The poorer countries are suffering far more than the richer countries because of a lack of fiscal resources to go on.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.