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Recent surveys show that Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of the federal officials most trusted by Americans to handle the country’s coronavirus response. But not on Facebook.
One post published April 6 lays out a more than 2,000-word conspiracy theory about the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. The post mixes facts and falsehoods about Fauci, Bill Gates and the source of the coronavirus to spin a conspiracy about the economy and a potential vaccine
"I wonder why Fauci was so quick to want to shutdown the booming Trump economy all across the nation, why He wants to keep it down for months and months, why He is resisting the drugs that doctors say are proving effective treatment already, why He made funny faces behind Trumps back when the President mentioned ‘Deep State,’ and why the liberal media freaked out when they didn’t see Fauci on stage," the post starts off saying. "I wonder...."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) One version has been shared more than 18,000 times.
Since joining the White House coronavirus task force in January, Fauci has become a target for online disinformation that seeks to undermine his credibility. And PolitiFact has fact-checked several false or misleading statements about Fauci and Gates’ connection to the coronavirus, so we took a closer look at this Facebook post — line by line, to be exact.
In the graphic below, we edited claims made in the post using green, yellow and red marks. Green is for accurate claims, yellow is for mixed statements and red is for inaccurate claims. We added the facts alongside each section.
While the Facebook post gets a few things right, it paints an inaccurate picture of Gates and Fauci’s connections to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence that the two men orchestrated a pandemic to profit from a future vaccine.
Note: You may need to increase your screen size on a desktop to see the entire message with our footnotes. On mobile, it looks better with a horizontal view.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits $10 Million to Global Response to 2019-nCOV," Jan. 26, 2020
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "Global Health Leaders Launch Decade of Vaccines Collaboration | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation"
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, accessed April 13, 2020
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Pirbright Institute, accessed April 13, 2020
Business Insider, "Dr. Fauci is still the most trusted leader in America on the coronavirus, while Trump and Jared Kushner are in last place," April 13, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others, accessed April 13, 2020
Facebook post, April 6, 2020
The Guardian, "Is coronavirus hitting young Americans harder than we thought?" April 1, 2020
The Hill, "Trump says coronavirus crisis could go through July or August," March 16, 2020
Live Science, "How deadly is the new coronavirus?" March 30, 2020
The New Yorker, "How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor," April 10, 2020
The New York Times, "Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right," March 28, 2020
Politico, "Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates," May 4, 2017
Politico, "Pelosi warns Trump not to reopen country too soon," April 9, 2020
PolitiFact, "Bloggers: Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros funded Sierra Leone lab that started Ebola outbreak," Aug. 11, 2014
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus," Jan. 24, 2020
PolitiFact, "What early research actually says about hydroxychloroquine and the coronavirus," April 7, 2020
PolitiFact, "Why it’s hard to estimate the coronavirus death rate this early," March 6, 2020
PolitiFact, "2019 coronavirus isn’t the common cold," March 9, 2020
ProPublica, "This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu," March 14, 2020
RealClearPolitics, "Bill Gates: ‘Things Won't Get Back To Normal Until We Have Gotten A Vaccine Out To The Entire World,’" April 5, 2020
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World Health Organization, Influenza (Seasonal), Nov. 6, 2018
Yahoo Finance, "Bill Gates on coronavirus: We need an 'extreme shutdown' of 6 to 10 weeks," March 26, 2020