Viral social media posts claim that Microsoft founder Bill Gates, through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to test new coronavirus vaccines on Africans. And in a sermon on Sunday, April 5, Zimbabwean preacher Emmanuel Makandiwa also claimed that there is a plan to inject electronic implants into people under the guise of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Is this true?
How did the rumours start?
Rumours and conspiracy theories around vaccines have existed for years. The rumours have increased recently following the outbreak of COVID-19.
On March 27, 2020, a Facebook post said to have been written by the French microbiologist Didier Raoult urged Africans to resist vaccinations created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The claim was debunked by AFP; it turned out he never said so.
On April 2, French doctor Jean-Paul Mira appeared on the TV channel LCI, with Camille Locht, research head at France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). The two were discussing the feasibility of using BCG, a vaccine widely used for decades around the world, in the fight against COVID-19.
Mira asked: “Shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, rather as was done with certain studies on AIDS, where things are tested on prostitutes because it’s known that they are highly exposed (to HIV)?”
Locht replied: “You’re right, we are thinking in parallel by the way about a study in Africa with the same kind of approach, (but) it doesn’t prevent us from being able to think about a study in Europe and Australia at the same time.”
The discussion drew widespread criticism, including from football stars Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.
INSERM said Locht’s comments had been taken out of context: “A distorted video, taken from an interview on LCI with one of our researchers about a study on the potential use of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19, is now the subject of erroneous interpretation.”
According to INSERM, any trials would be conducted in Europe and Australia, and “Africa should not be forgotten or excluded from research, as the pandemic is global.”
Mira later apologised.
Speaking with the Huffington Post, Mira said: “It seemed interesting to me that in addition to France and Australia, an African country could participate in this study which I had never heard of before hearing about it on the show.”
Continued next page