Bill Gates did not say COVID-19 ‘is a farce’ or call for the withdrawal of vaccines
Satirical piece from August 2021 being circulated as authentic ‘confession’ in WhatsApp forwards
Claim: Bill Gates has called for the withdrawal of COVID-19 vaccines after admitting that the pandemic was “a farce”.
Fact: Bill Gates did not call for a withdrawal of COVID-19 vaccines nor did he make the other statements attributed to him in the viral WhatsApp chain message. The message is false as it is based on a satirical article published by a platform known to promote anti-vaccine propaganda and COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
On 14 January 2022, Soch Fact Check received a WhatsApp message with the title, “BILL GATES CONFESSION BREAKING NEWS”. The 1,347-word text, which is close to 30 paragraphs long and requires readers to click ‘read more’ to see the whole message, has spread like wildfire in Pakistani WhatsApp chat groups.
The alarmist message attributes false and sensational statements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine to Gates and claims that “Gates demanded that all Covid 19 vaccines be withdrawn in all alternate universe,” with a link that leads to this website. Words such as “confesses”, “shocking”, “anguished”, “dramatic”, “teary-eyed”, and “rare admission of defeat” are used to grab the reader’s attention.
Fact or Fiction?
Among the statements attributed to Gates in the message are several false and sensational assertions, such as vaccines “are killing people left and right”, vaccines “do NOT confer immunity, they do NOT prevent transmission of the virus”, the “vaccine is far more dangerous than anyone imagined”, “the reporting system is a sham”, and “too many people who take these vaccines drop dead”. The message also includes the terms, “Media Mouthpieces”, “Official Narrative”, and “inflated statistics”.
The message includes the text, “BY DAILY EXPOSE ON AUGUST 29, 2021 • ( 192 COMMENTS )”, in its fifth line.
Soch Fact Check carried out a Google search using the words at the start of the viral message combined with “Daily Expose”, which lead to the website of what is now known as The Exposé, a platform that has repeatedly published Covid-19 conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination news and that has been flagged by IFCN-certified fact-checking organizations multiple times before, as well as BBC and Ferret Fact Service.
The Exposé report, an archived version of which can be found here, now includes a note from the editor that states, “When we first published this article we should have made it clear at the beginning that it was satire rather than at the end. We did not do this and we apologise.”
“The following satire is fictional in that Mr. Gates has made no such speech and the Gates Foundation has not established any funds to compensate vaccine victims or to make available effective, inexpensive COVID-19 remedies. All the rest of the article is factual – W. Gelles,” says a prior note from the author.
The WhatsApp text message in question also refers to Event 201 — a high-level pandemic exercise organized on 18 October 2019 by The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHCHS), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The text claims that Bill Gates said the event was held “just a few weeks before we announced the actual pandemic”, feeding into the conspiracy theory that the pandemic was in some way planned.
Soch Fact Check concludes that the viral WhatsApp chain message is false as it is based on a satirical article published by an outlet known to promote anti-vaxxer propaganda and conspiracy theories.
Despite the disclaimer in bold at the top of The Exposé article, many people, especially in Pakistan, believed the claims made to be true.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis during the period from 1 December 2019 (outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic) to 27 January 2022 using the following search terms:
- “We made a terrible mistake. We wanted to protect people against a dangerous virus. But it turns out the virus is much less dangerous than we thought.“
- “bill gates vaccine withdrawal”
- “Bill Gates calls for the withdrawal of all Covid-19 Vaccines”
The first search term revealed close to 1,600 interactions across 180 posts on Facebook. Posts and reactions peaked on 30 August 2021 and then again on 24 October 2021 and included posts written in English, Vietnamese, Filipino, Malay, and Chichewa. The second and third search terms yielded posts that were even more popular, with over 4,500 interactions across 312 Facebook posts and more than 2,200 interactions across 328 Facebook posts, respectively.
Conclusion: The viral message is false and has no basis in fact. It is based on a satirical article published by The Exposé, which is known to promote anti-vaxx propaganda and COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Bill Gates did not say COVID-19 vaccines should be withdrawn nor did he make the other statements attributed to him in the message or the posts based on the message.