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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman November 17, 2021

Bill Gates said we need vaccines that halt transmission. He didn’t say the COVID-19 shots don’t work

If Your Time is short

  • Gates never said that the vaccines don’t work well. His nonprofit, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called claims stating otherwise false. 

  • In a recent interview, Gates said that current vaccines “slightly reduce transmission” and he advocated for funds to be allocated so that researchers can develop new vaccines in the future that halt transmission and offer disease protection at the same time.

A clip of Bill Gates is being taken out of context online with claims that it shows the billionaire openly acknowledging that the COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective. 

"Bill Gates just admitted that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines don’t work well," reads one Twitter post that shared the 27-second clip.

"For those who have not seen it, this is an explicit acknowledgement that the mRNA and rAdV vaccines for COVID are not working well," another said.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat potential false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

This distorts Gates’ words, and only shows a snippet of a longer conversation he had on Nov. 5 with Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s former health secretary. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called the claim false. 

The interview was hosted by a British think tank called Policy Exchange and covered topics such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The part that’s highlighted in the tweets comes toward the end when Hunt asked Gates about pandemic preparedness.

Around the video’s 27-minute mark, Gates said:

"It was 2015 that I gave the TED talk and wrote a number of papers titled ‘we’re not ready for the next pandemic,’ and, sadly, that was a better forecast of what would happen than anyone would have wished for. The economic damage, the deaths, it’s been completely horrific.

"And, I would expect that will lead the R&D (research and development) budgets to be focused on things we didn’t have today. We didn’t have vaccines that block transmission. We got vaccines that help you with your health, but they only slightly reduce the transmission. We need a new way of doing the vaccines."

COVID-19 vaccines do not entirely block transmission of the virus. But they continue to protect against severe disease. And studies show that fully vaccinated people are less likely to contract and spread the virus than unvaccinated people. 

Still, Gates never said that any of the COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective or "don’t work." Rather, he suggests that resources need to be allocated to help scientists develop new types of vaccines that halt transmission while also offering protection from diseases — something that researchers have already started to look into.

These posts are False.

Our Sources

Twitter, post, Nov. 9, 2021 

Twitter, post, Nov. 14, 2021 

YouTube, Bill Gates speaks to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP in exclusive Policy Exchange interview, Nov. 5, 2021 

Reuters, Fact Check-Bill Gates did not say COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective, Nov. 16, 2021 

Reuters, UK researchers identify T-cell targets for future COVID vaccines, Nov. 10, 2021 

Healthline, Vaccinated People Can Transmit the Coronavirus, but It’s Still More Likely If You’re Unvaccinated, Nov. 3, 2021 

Email interview, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation media relations, Nov. 17, 2021

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Bill Gates said we need vaccines that halt transmission. He didn’t say the COVID-19 shots don’t work

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