10:26 GMT15 August 2020
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    The tech billionaire, who has donated massively to vaccine development, has been the subject of conspiracy talk over his role in the coronavirus pandemic.

    Bill Gates has staunchly denied theories that accused him of being behind the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The Microsoft founder blamed the spread of the theories on penchant for “titillating” information on social media.

    Another reason was the sense of uncertainty the virus has created, Gates told CNN on Thursday: “People [are] looking for a very simple explanation, who is the bad guy here. A lot of it has been connected to politics, more in the US than in other locations.”

    “Our foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any group,” he added. “So you just turn that around. You say, OK, we’re making money and we’re trying to kill people with vaccines or by inventing something. And at least it’s true, we’re associated with vaccines, but you actually have sort of flipped the connection.”

    Gates has been the target of conspiracy theories long before the COVID-19 pandemic (there have been unproven assumptions that he was involved in the spread of the Zika virus in 2015, apparently stemming from his donations to development and testing of genetically-modified mosquitoes).

    The coronavirus has again put Gates in the headlines, with numerous posts on social media platforms and in mobile messengers accusing the billionaire philanthropist of trying to track the population through vaccination.

    One post, which was shared over 16,000 times, falsely claimed that Gates was a partner in the Wuhan virus lab, and another falsely quoted a French specialist in infectious diseases as urging Africans “not to take Bill Gates vaccine” against the coronavirus.

    A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released in May showed 28 percent of Americans believe that Gates plans to use a COVID-19 vaccine as a way to implant microchips in people and track their movements.

    There has been no evidence to support the microchip theory, which is based on his support for the use of digital IDs for vaccination.

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $1.6 billion to the Gavi vaccine alliance and an additional $100 million to a fund created to finance the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.

    Confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 15,500,000 worldwide, with more than 9.5 million recoveries and 633,000 deaths reported as of Friday, according to data monitored by Johns Hopkins University.

    There are currently no approved vaccines for the coronavirus. There are more than 160 vaccines under development, with 27 already undergoing human trials.

    vaccine, coronavirus, COVID-19, Bill Gates, Microsoft
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