Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates said on Wednesday that he has been taken aback by the volume of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories about him spreading on social media on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gates in an interview with Reuters said the millions of online posts about him and top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci were “crazy conspiracy theories.”
He explained that the conspiracy theories had likely taken hold in part because of the combination of a frightening viral pandemic and the rise of social media.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories.
“I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away,” he added.
Gates, a billionaire who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft Corp in 2014, has through his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed at least 1.75 billion dollars to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That includes support for some makers of vaccines, diagnostics and potential treatments.
Since the pandemic began a year ago, millions of conspiracies have spread over the internet, fueling misinformation about the coronavirus, its origins and the motives of those working to fight it.
They include claims that Fauci and Gates created the pandemic to try and control people, that they want to profit from the virus’ spread, and that they want to use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people.
“But do people really believe that stuff?
“We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand.
‘’How does it change peoples’ behaviour and how should we have minimized this,” he said.
Gates praised Fauci and Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, as “smart” and “wonderful people.”
He said he looked forward to seeing them able to work effectively and speak the truth under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
During former President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, Gates said, it had “sometimes felt like they were the only sane people in the U.S. government.”
“I’m excited about the team that Biden has picked” to tackle the health crisis,” he said.
Gates said he was also pleased that under Biden, the United States had rejoined the World Health Organisation.
“He’s appointed smart people, and the fact that Fauci won’t be suppressed,” Gates said.