The US billionaire and former richest man in the world has spoken out a number of times since the coronavirus pandemic broke out. As well as founding Microsoft, the software mogul heads up the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has sought eliminate diseases such as polio.
In 2017, Mr Gates urged the world to prepare for a global pandemic with the same urgency it approaches issues such as nuclear deterrence and climate change.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Munich that year, the billionaire warned: “Epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.
“And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.
“Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe.”
He said countries should practice military-like “germ games” to test pandemic response and urged scientists to develop a platform that would enable them to make a vaccine quickly in response to a new virus.
Three years later, as the coronavirus pandemic had shut down most major economies around the world, he told the Wall Street Journal: “I wish I had done more to call attention to the danger.
He has also hit out at Covid conspiracy theorists, telling Reuters such theories are “really evil” and that he is “very surprised” some of them target him.
In May 2020, a YouGov/Yahoo News poll found that, out of 1,640 US adults surveyed, 28 percent thought it was “true” that “Bill Gates wants to use a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 to implant microchips in people that would be used to track people with a digital ID”.
The 65-year-old has been vaccinated in the US and went on to thank all those involved in its production.
Concluding his 2017 Munich speech, Mr Gates said: “When the next pandemic strikes, it could be another catastrophe in the annals of the human race.
“Or it could be something else altogether. An extraordinary triumph of human will … Ultimately, the choice is ours.”