Bill Gates Had This to Say About Those Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

The billionaire is finally weighing in on the theories behind his efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Is Bill Gates—along with a coalition dubbed "ID 2020"—seeking to "microchip" the global population using a COVID-19 vaccine? That question alone suggests many levels of nefariousness from the billionaire founder of Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, the latter of which has funded a fight on global pandemics. But it is definitely something people are asking. Internet hoax debunker Snopes has even said this conspiracy theory has no basis in fact. But people still seem to believe that Gates is behind the coronavirus pandemic and is using it to create a vaccine that would include the insertion of a microchip so that people could be tracked, or controlled in some way. And now, Gates himself is finally speaking out.

In a call with the media last week, the Microsoft founder responded to the conspiracies about him, saying (according to the New York Post): "The misinformation thing is just so weird. Most of the people I talk to aren't the ones who are subject to that, so I don't have any direct connection to it to understand it."

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Gates continued: "In a way, it's so bizarre, you almost want to view it as something humorous, but I guess it's really not a humorous thing. I've never been involved in any sort of microchip-type thing. It's almost hard to deny this stuff because it's so stupid or strange that to even repeat it almost seems to give it credibility."

In recent months, the theory about Gates has spread all over social media platforms—like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. And on top of that, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll from late May, 44 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats believe that Gates is plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a pretext to implant microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements.

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Alex Kasprak of Snopes believes this is where the rumor stemmed from:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did fund a pilot study conducted by MIT and Rice University researchers into a potential vaccine-delivery device that could impart an invisible mark detectable by a smartphone. This study was theoretical, the technology described was passive, and the device was incapable of any sort of tracking or monitoring. Still, much of the credence lent to the false notion that Gates has designs to track you using vaccines comes from mixing the existence of that pilot study with another public health concept Gates is actively involved in researching called a "digital identity."

Gates has, however, advocated for contact tracing, which could be at the root of these theories. In March, he participated in a Reddit AMA, and said, "In Seattle, the [University of Washington] is providing thousands of tests per day but no one is connected to a national tracking system. Whenever there is a positive test it should be seen to understand where the disease is and whether we need to strengthen the social distancing."

The issue of contact tracing has been a politically charged one in the U.S., with many citizens concerned about their privacy. In May, both Apple and Google released COVID-19 contact-tracing technology, allowing government health agencies to build smartphone apps to track the spread of the coronavirus. According to reporting by Business Insider, only three of the 50 states in the U.S. have confirmed plans to use the contact-tracing technology. And for more myths surrounding a treatment for COVID-19, check out 5 Dangerous Myths About the Coronavirus Vaccine You Need to Stop Believing.

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