Lewis Hamilton posts anti-vaxxer clip accusing Bill Gates of lying about Covid-19 trials, retracts post backlash
F1 star Lewis Hamilton has been heavily criticized for sharing an anti-vaxxer post with his 18.3 million followers on Instagram. The video, originally by content creator King Bach, was shared by Hamilton twice on his Instagram Story, and accused Bill Gates of lying over coronavirus trials. The caption attached to the video, though not written by the six-time Formula One champion, read: “I remember when I told my first lie.”
The social media Story which has now disappeared showed Gates giving an interview to CBSN about progress on a vaccine for coronavirus. The billionaire reportedly gave $3.6 million to South Korean company SK Bioscience in May to accelerate the development of a Covid-19 vaccine. In a letter written to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Gates said that the company could produce around 200 million vaccine kits by June 2021.
In the video shared on the social media platform, the Microsoft founder dismissed the concerns over potential side-effects of a coronavirus vaccine and also rubbished baseless theories that he wanted to embed tracking chips in the vaccines. “No, there’s no connection between any of these vaccines and any tracking type thing at all, I don’t know where that came from,” Gates said in the clip. When asked why these conspiracy theories have become so widespread, he responded: “‘I don’t know. Dr Fauci and I are the two most mentioned, and some of these are deeply ironic. Like, our foundation is about reducing death and bringing equity to health. And yet the idea that we get accused of creating chips or the virus, I think we just need to get the truth out there.
“We need to explain our values so that people understand why we’re involved in this work and why we’re willing to put billions towards accelerating the progress. It’s a little unclear to me, but I hope it will die down as people get the facts.”
According to reports, there are more than 16,000 Facebook posts encouraging baseless conspiracy theories about Gates and the deadly virus. The media analytics company Zignal Labs has said that false information about the 64-year-old is the most widespread of all Covid-19 lies. But regardless of this, Hamilton chose to share the video on his social media account prompting backlash.
One person said on Twitter: “Very sad to find out that Lewis Hamilton is an anti-vaxxer. I have been a big fan but wow, this is a problem.” “Lewis Hamilton, with no less than 18 million followers on Instagram, goes on to repost antivaxx conspiracy bulls**t. Sir, I applaud your climate and social activism, but please don’t spread dangerous disinformation,” another user added.
“Lewis Hamilton posting antivax shit is another reminder why you should never put celebrities on a pedestal. Fame and success in one field doesn't mean anything about someone as a person. It's sad to see someone I deeply admire abuse their platform like this,” wrote a third one.
Following the backlash, Hamilton shared another message on his Instagram Story that read: “Hi guys, I’ve noticed some comments on my earlier post around the coronavirus vaccine, and want to clarify my thoughts on it, as I understand why they might have been misinterpreted. Firstly, I hadn’t actually seen the comment attached so that is totally my fault and I have a lot of respect for the charity work Bill Gates does. I also want to be clear that I’m not against a vaccine and no doubt it will be important in the fight against coronavirus, and I’m hopeful for its development to save lives.
“However, after watching the video, I felt it showed that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the side effects most importantly and how is it going to be funded. I may not always get my posting right, I’m only human but I’m learning as we go. Sending you positivity.”