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Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks at a news conference during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022. (AP) Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks at a news conference during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022. (AP)

Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks at a news conference during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022. (AP)

Jill Terreri Ramos
By Jill Terreri Ramos May 31, 2022

Bill Gates’ comments about preparing for pandemics doesn’t mean he planned monkeypox outbreak

If Your Time is short

  • Philanthropist Bill Gates has spoken about the importance of preparing for future pandemics. 

  • Gates’ comments are not evidence that clusters of monkeypox, a virus related to smallpox, were planned. 

A Facebook post claims that Microsoft founder Bill Gates planned the monkeypox clusters in Europe and North America and that there is a coordinated effort to plan virus outbreaks. 

Monkeypox is a virus related to smallpox. Monkeypox cases around the world are being investigated by public health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A May 22 Facebook post shared a screenshot of what appeared  to be a prior post from Feb. 19. That February post included a photo of Gates and text that read: "I actually think it will be a smallpox-type outbreak. He has mentioned it several times and look in the comments from the Google pic from yesterday." 

"It’s hard to fathom why people in power would want to do evil things," text in the May 22 post read. 

This 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.)

Gates has talked about smallpox, but he has done so in the context of preparing for an outbreak, not planning one. In a conversation with former British health secretary Jeremy Hunt in November 2021, Gates talked about the level of funding and organization required to prepare for pandemics, and said that funding could go to things such as "germ games," where public health authorities test different scenarios. 

Shortly after Gates’ conversation with Hunt, social media users inaccurately linked Gates with vials labeled "smallpox" found in a Pennsylvania laboratory. The vials contained the virus that is used in the smallpox vaccine, vaccinia, not the virus that causes smallpox, variola. PolitiFact found no connection between Gates’ comments and the discovery of the vials.                                                       

The "Google pic" the Facebook user mentions is likely the Google Doodle from Feb. 17, which is a drawing of Japanese virologist Dr. Michiaki Takahashi, who developed the first vaccine against chicken pox. Google described his work this way: "Takahashi’s vaccine has since been administered to millions of children around the world as an effective measure to prevent severe cases of the contagious viral disease and its transmission."

Gates, a philanthropist who has used part of his fortune to promote public health, has long been a target of misinformation by people who object to vaccines. Gates financially supports and promotes vaccine development. There is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that he has planned virus outbreaks.

Gates and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have committed funding to prepare for pandemics, not to plan them.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed that Gates planned a smallpox-type outbreak.

That’s unfounded. Gates has spoken about preparing for future pandemics, not orchestrating them.

Gates has long been the target of baseless conspiracy theories by people suspicious of his work to fund and promote vaccine development. 

We rate this statement False. 


 

Our Sources

Facebook post, May 22, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. 

Google Doodle, Feb. 17, 2022, "Dr. Michiaki Takahashi's 94th birthday." Accessed May 23, 2022. 

Misbar, fact-check, "No, Bill Gates Did Not Predict the Monkeypox Outbreak," May 21, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. 

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "2022 United States Monkeypox Case," May 18, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. 

The Independent, "Bill Gates warns of smallpox terror attacks as he seeks research funds," Accessed May 23, 2022. 

SkyNews, "Microsoft founder Bill Gates warns of bioterrorist attacks and urges world leaders to use 'germ games' to prepare in interview with Jeremy Hunt," Nov. 6, 2021. Accessed May 23, 2022. 

PolitiFact, "There’s no evidence linking Bill Gates to vials labeled ‘smallpox’ found in lab freezer," Nov. 19, 2021. Accessed May 23, 2022. 

Gavi donor information, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Accessed May 24, 2022. 

National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, JMIR Public Health Surveill, "‘Thought I’d Share First,’ and Other Conspiracy Theory Tweets from the COVID-19 Infodemic: Exploratory Study," April 14, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2022. 

The Economist, "Bill Gates explains ‘How to Prevent the Next Pandemic,’" May 7, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2022. 

Financial Times, "Bill Gates warns of pandemics potentially far worse than Covid," Jan. 18, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2022.

 

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Bill Gates’ comments about preparing for pandemics doesn’t mean he planned monkeypox outbreak

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