Bill Gates did not say in this interview that Covid vaccines were ‘dangerous’

In a 2022 video interview, Bill Gates praised Covid-19 vaccines while admitting they were not perfect in entirely blocking the transmission of the virus and in the limited duration of their effect. A Greek website shared a clip from this video in April 2023 with the false claim that it showed him saying the vaccines were “dangerous” and a “big mistake”. But nowhere in the clip, nor in the full-length interview, does Gates say this.

The online article published on April 14, 2023 includes a 40-second clip from the interview and has the headline: “‘We were wrong – Vaccines were extremely dangerous’: the frank confession of M. Gates on Covid-19 and vaccinations”.

However, nowhere in the clip does he say this. We also reviewed the full 56-minute interview and found no such statements.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist is a frequent target of disinformation on social media related to the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in promoting vaccination, including against Covid-19.

Approved Covid-19 vaccines are estimated to have saved 20 million lives from the virus, which has killed nearly 6.9 million people by April 2023, according to the World Health Organization.


Screenshot of the fasle Facebook post (left) and of the false article from Pronews (right). Image capture: 19/04/2023

The false article also claims that Gates said in the video: “We made a terrible mistake. We wanted to protect people from a dangerous virus. But it turns out the virus is much less dangerous than we thought. And the vaccine is far more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.”

A review of the video finds no such quote. The article was shared on Facebook in Greek herehere and here. It has been shared in total more than 1,100 times.

A 2022 discussion on how to prevent the next pandemic

To check the extract included in the article, we found the full interview via the “92Y” marking behind Gates, as circled in red in the screenshot below.

Screenshot from the video used in the false online article. Red circle was added by AFP. Image captured: 20/04/2023

An advanced web search with the keywords “92Y + Bill Gates” took us to an interview that the billionaire gave at the 92nd Street Y cultural centre in May 2022 with the journalist Fareed Zakaria.

The entire interview, which was about Gates’ book “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic” (2022), is available on YouTube (archived here).

The 40-second clip shared in the article is between minutes 23:39 and 24:21 of the full interview.

Referring to the very early days of the outbreak in 2020, when not much was known about the virus, Gates says the world did not take action as quickly as it needed to.

He said: “It wasn’t until early February, when I was in a meeting, that experts in the Foundation said, ‘There is no way — you know — there’s been too much travel without diagnosis for us to contain this’. And then, at that point, we didn’t really understand the fatality rate, you know, we didn’t understand that it’s a fairly low fatality rate and that it’s a disease mainly of the elderly, kind of like flu, although a bit different than that. So that was a pretty scary period where the world didn’t go on on alert, including the United States, nearly as fast as it needed to.”

He was responding to a comment by Zakaria about China’s cooperation in the early days of the pandemic and Gates’ proposal to create a global pandemic surveillance team called the Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization (GERM).

At no time in this sequence does the founder of Microsoft refer to the vaccines or “admit” that they were a “mistake”. Instead, he talks about the beginning of the pandemic, saying international travel was not contained quickly enough then to stop the spread of the virus and at the time scientists did not yet know how the virus worked.

Furthermore, at no point in the entire interview does Gates say that vaccines were a “mistake” and that they were “dangerous”.

At mark 28:15, the billionaire talks about the mRNA vaccines. He acknowledges that they are “imperfect” for two reasons: firstly, they do not entirely block infection and reduce the transmission of the virus; and secondly, their protection does not last long enough. But he does not question their usefulness, nor does he call them “dangerous”. Instead, he is talking about how they could be improved.

Authorities such as the World Health Organization advise that getting vaccinated is one of the most important measures that can be taken to protect against Covid-19, even if it is still possible to get infected with the virus and spread it to others after being vaccinated. “Safe and effective vaccines are available that provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19,” it says.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (archived here) also says vaccines are effective against Covid-19, as do the European Union (archived here) and the Greek government on its page dedicated to vaccines (archived here).

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COVID-19, Health, Science, Society, Technology

Author(s): Théophile BLOUDANIS, AFP Greece

Originally published here.