Anti-vaxxers attack Bill Gates over debunked conspiracy theory, urge people not to take Covid-19 vaccine
Philanthropist billionaire Bill Gates, one of the few world leaders spearheading a global fight against infectious diseases, has been inundated with slanderous messages from anti-vaccination group members from across the world following a viral conspiracy theory. The Microsoft founder, last week, had posted a video on his Instagram account of him holding a placard, thanking health workers for combating the deadly novel coronavirus.
The placard read: "Thank you health care workers." The world's second-richest man, who spends billions on public health programs and global development, also wrote: "Thank you to all of the health care workers who are making heroic efforts to test and treat patients across the United States and the world."
However, within days of his posting the message, thousands of anti-vaxxers took to his post, commenting that they will not take his coronavirus vaccine, and urging Africa to not take the vaccine either.
"I am a registered nurse and I will NEVER take or administer your BS vaccine. People are waking up!" one Instagram user wrote. While another said: "People are waking up. Do us a favor and take all the vaccines you have planned for humanity yourself."
The comments come days after Gates became a Twitter trend in Africa on March 31 after a conspiracy theory was propagated that the tech billionaire wanted to vaccinate people in Africa with his coronavirus vaccine even though there is no official vaccine available across the world to combat COVID-19.
As thousands tweeted, urging Africa to not accept his COVID-19 vaccination, the content of the tweets led to the origins of the fake message: a French doctor. The message, attributed to a French doctor named Didier Raoult, was posted on March 27, 2020, on Facebook in French, warning Africans to not take a vaccination formulated by Bill Gates. The doctor, according to the fake post, claimed that the vaccination was created by the West to destroy Africa.
Raoult, a microbiologist specializing in infectious diseases, has been in the news over the past month after he claimed that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine was a cure for COVID-19.
The claim was widely endorsed by President Donald Trump. Reports state the scientific community has denounced Raoult's drug trials, however, the doctor continues to receive support across the world. Raoult even has a Facebook group dedicated to him with nearly 400,000 members called 'Didier Raoult Vs Coronavirus,' with some saying that he deserves the Nobel Prize.
The fake message, which was eventually translated in English, spread from Facebook to Twitter, drawing the attention of anti-vaccination groups in the US, South Africa, and other European countries. A French fact-checking organization, Check News, debunked the conspiracy theory on March 30 after it contacted Méditerranée Infection, the university hospital institute where Raoult works.
The institute clarified that Raoult had not written the message about Gates which was widely circulated. AFP also debunked the claim, which led to Facebook deeming all the posts containing the inaccurate message as false information.
Recently, Gates said on 'The Daily Show' that his Gates Foundation could mobilize faster than governments to fight the coronavirus outbreak. It was Gates who had warned against the outbreak of a pandemic a few years ago and regretted that the world did not take much preparation against it.