In a Twitter interview with Professor Devi Sridhar, head of the Global Health Governance Programme, Mr Gates said he can’t understand why some theorists think he wants to inject people with microchips.
“People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation,” the multibillionaire said. “I didn’t expect that. Some of it, like me putting chips in arms, doesn’t make sense to me – why would I want to do that?”
Through his private charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Gates has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Covid-19 research, including for vaccine development. As a side effect, this has earned him the attention of online conspiracy theorists, many of whom believe (falsely) that Covid vaccines secretly contain microscopic computer chips that Mr Gates uses to control people.
In reality, no such computer chips exist, and all three of the Covid vaccines authorized in the United States have proven extremely safe and effective.
Perhaps one measure of how far the microchip fantasy has spread is that Mr Gates was forced to talk about it. Professor Sridhar brought up the issue in a question.
“One major problem has been online misinformation on Facebook & other platforms around vaccines, masks and other interventions,” the public health expert said. “How do we deal with this challenge?”
Mr Gates did not offer a specific solution.
“Trusted authorities like @WHO [the World Health Organization] and @CDCgov [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] need more resources to see the pandemic early (surveillance) and to communicate better,” the philanthropist said. “Social media got behind on trying to get factual information out – there will be a lot of debate about how to do better on that.”
For her final question, Professor Sridhar asked Mr Gates “what everyone wants to know – how and when will the pandemic be over?”
On this subject, the Microsoft founder offered some cautious optimism. While the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc on countries right now, he said, in the long run it may provide some valuable immunity.
“Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu,” Mr Gates said. “A more transmissive variant is not likely but we have been surprised a lot during this pandemic. Omicron will create a lot of immunity at least for the next year.”
However, the billionaire finished the interview with an ominous note about “the next pandemic.”
“We can do a lot better next time!!” he said.
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