Story at a glance

  • Millions of online posts containing a range of conspiracy theories targeting Gates have spread across social media at an alarming rate.
  • They include claims he created COVID-19 to exercise control over the population, profit from the vaccine or use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people to monitor them.
  • “We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand ... how does it change people’s behavior and how should we have minimized this?” Gates said.

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says he is very surprised he became a target of “crazy” coronavirus conspiracy theories and misinformation online over the course of the deadly pandemic. 

Millions of online posts containing a range of conspiracy theories targeting Gates have spread across social media at an alarming rate since the virus emerged over a year ago, including claims he created COVID-19 to exercise control over the population, profit from a vaccine or use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people to monitor them.  


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“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Gates said in an interview with Reuters

“But do people really believe that stuff?” he asked.

A Yahoo News-YouGov poll of 1,640 people conducted early on in the pandemic suggested that 28 percent of Americans believed Gates did in fact want to use vaccines to implant microchips in people, with 44 percent of Republicans surveyed agreeing. 

Gates suggested the conspiracy theories about him and Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was a consequence of the pandemic and the increasing prominence of social media. 

“We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand ... how does it change people’s behavior and how should we have minimized this?” he said. 

During the interview, Gates praised Fauci and Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying they are “smart” and “wonderful people.” He said that during the Trump administration’s handling of the deadly outbreak, it “sometimes felt like they were the only sane people in the U.S. government.” He also praised President Biden for rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO). 

While Gates has been the subject of prominent conspiracy theories online, his philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been one of the biggest contributors to the global response to rein the virus in. The group has committed at least $1.75 billion to fight the virus, including support for vaccine development and distribution and research into COVID-19 treatments. 


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Published on Jan 27, 2021