Given the incredible reach that the tentacles of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have into every corner of the global health markets, it should not be surprising that the foundation has been intimately involved with every stage of the current pandemic crisis...
Who is Bill Gates? A software developer? A businessman? A philanthropist? A global health expert? This question, once merely academic, is becoming a very real question for those who are beginning to realize that Gates' unimaginable wealth has been used to gain control over every corner of the fields of public health, medical research and vaccine development. And now that we are presented with the very problem that Gates has been talking about for years, we will soon find that this software developer with no medical training is going to leverage that wealth into control over the fates of billions of people.
Bill Gates is no public health expert. He is not a doctor, an epidemiologist or an infectious disease researcher. Yet somehow he has become a central figure in the lives of billions of people, presuming to dictate the medical actions that will be required for the world to go "back to normal." The transformation of Bill Gates from computer kingpin to global health czar is as remarkable as it is instructive, and it tells us a great deal about where we are heading as the world plunges into a crisis the likes of which we have not seen before.
Until his reinvention as a philanthropist in the past decade, Bill Gates was primarily thought of as a software developer, or, less flatteringly, a billionaire shyster leveraging virus-laden products into a global monopoly. But, once reviled for the massive wealth and the monopolistic power that his virus-laden software afforded him, Gates is now hailed as a visionary who is leveraging that wealth and power for the greater good of humanity.
The process by which this reinvention of Gates' public image took place is not mysterious. It's the same process by which every billionaire has revived their public image since John D. Rockefeller hired Ivy Ledbetter Lee to transform him from the head of the Standard Oil Hydra into the kind old man handing out dimes to strangers.
More to the point, John D. Rockefeller knew that to gain the adoration of the public, he had to appear to give them what they want: money. He devoted hundreds of millions of dollars of his vast oil monopoly fortune to establishing institutions that, he claimed, were for the public good. The General Education Board. The Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. The Rockefeller Foundation.
Similarly, Bill Gates has spent much of the past two decades transforming himself from software magnate into a benefactor of humanity through his own Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, Gates has surpassed Rockefeller's legacy with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation long having eclipsed The Rockefeller Foundation as the largest private foundation in the world, with $46.8 billion of assets on its books that it wields in its stated program areas of global health and development, global growth, and global policy advocacy.
And, like Rockefeller, Gates' transformation has been helped along by a well-funded public relations campaign. Gone are the theatrical tricks of the PR pioneers—the ubiquitous ice cream cones of Gates' mentor Warren Buffett are the last remaining hold-out of the old Rockefeller-handing-out-dimes gimmick. No, Gates has guided his public image into that of a modern-day saint through an even simpler tactic: buying good publicity.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spends tens of millions of dollars per year on media partnerships, sponsoring coverage of its program areas across the board. Gates funds The Guardian's Global Development website. Gates funds NPR's global health coverage. Gates funds the Our World in Data website that is tracking the latest statistics and research on the coronavirus pandemic. Gates funds BBC coverage of global health and development issues, both through its BBC Media Action organization and the BBC itself. Gates funds world health coverage on ABC News.
When the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer was given a $3.5 million Gates foundation grant to set up a special unit to report on global health issues, NewsHour communications chief Rob Flynn was asked about the potential conflict of interest that such a unit would have in reporting on issues that the Gates Foundation is itself involved in. "In some regards I guess you might say that there are not a heck of a lot of things you could touch in global health these days that would not have some kind of Gates tentacle," Flynn responded.
Indeed, it would be almost possible to find any area of global health that has been left untouched by the tentacles of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
It was Gates who sponsored the meeting that led to the creation of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, a global public-private partnership bringing together state sponsors and big pharmaceutical companies whose specific goals include the creation of "healthy markets for vaccines and other immunisation products." As a founding partner of the alliance, the Gates Foundation provided $750 million in seed funding and has gone on to make over $4.1 billion in commitments to the group.
Gates provided the seed money that created The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a public-private partnership that acts as a finance vehicle for governmental AIDS, TB, and malaria programs.
When a public-private partnership of governments, world health bodies and 13 leading pharmaceutical companies came together in 2012 "to accelerate progress toward eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases," there was the Gates Foundation with $363 million of support.
When The Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents was launched in 2015 to leverage billions of dollars in public and private financing for global health and development programs, there was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a founding partner with a $275 million contribution.
When the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, there was the Gates Foundation with an initial injection of $100 million.
The examples go on and on. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's fingerprints can be seen on every major global health initiative of the past two decades. And beyond the flashy, billion-dollar global partnerships, the Foundation is behind hundreds of smaller country and region-specific grants—$10 million to combat a locus infestation in East Africa, or $300 million to support agricultural research in Africa and Asia—that add up to billions of dollars in commitments.
It comes as no surprise, then, that—far beyond the $250 million that the Gates Foundation has pledged to the "fight" against coronavirus—every aspect of the current coronavirus pandemic involves organizations, groups and individuals with direct ties to Gates funding.
From the start, the World Health Organization has directed the global response to the current pandemic. From its initial monitoring of the outbreak in Wuhan and its declaration in January that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission to its live media briefings and its technical guidance on country-level planning and other matters, the WHO has been the body setting the guidelines and recommendations shaping the global response to this outbreak.
But even the World Health Organization itself is largely reliant on funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The WHO'S most recent donor report shows that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the organization's second-largest donor behind the United States government. The Gates Foundation single-handedly contributes more to the world health body than Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Russia and the UK combined.
What's more, current World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is in fact, like Bill Gates himself, not a medical doctor at all, but the controversial ex-Minister of Health of Ethiopia, who was accused of covering up three cholera outbreaks in the country during his tenure. Before joining the WHO he served as chair of the Gates-founded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and sat on the board of the Gates-founded Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Gates-funded Stop TB Partnership.
The current round of lockdowns and restrictive stay-home orders in western countries were enacted on the back of alarming models predicting millions of deaths in the United States and hundreds of thousands in the UK.
The work of two research groups was crucial in shaping the decision of the UK and US governments to implement wide-ranging lockdowns, and, in turn, governments around the world. The first group, the Imperial College Covid-19 Research Team, issued a report on March 16th that predicted up to 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the US unless strict government measures were put in place.
The second group, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Bill Gates' home state of Washington, helped provide data that corroborated the White House's initial estimates of the virus' effects, estimates that have been repeatedly downgraded as the situation has progressed.
Unsurprisingly, the Gates Foundation has injected substantial sums of money into both groups. This year alone, the Gates Foundation has already given $79 million to Imperial College, and in 2017 the Foundation announced a $279 million investment into the IHME to expand its work collecting health data and creating models.
Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, has become the face of the US government's coronavirus response, echoing Bill Gates' assertion that the country will not "get back to normal" until "a good vaccine" can be found to insure the public's safety.'
Beyond just their frequent collaborations and cooperation in the past, Fauci has direct ties to Gates projects and funding. In 2010, he was appointed to the Leadership Council of the Gates-founded "Decade of Vaccines" project to implement a Global Vaccine Action Plan, a project to which Gates committed $10 billion of funding. And in October of last year, just as the current pandemic was beginning, the Gates Foundation announced a $100 million contribution to the National Institute of Health to help, among other programs, Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' research into HIV.
Also in October of last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with the World Economic Forum and The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security to stage Event 201, a tabletop exercise gauging the economic and societal impact of a globally-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Given the incredible reach that the tentacles of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have into every corner of the global health markets, it should not be surprising that the foundation has been intimately involved with every stage of the current pandemic crisis, either. In effect, Gates has merely used the wealth from his domination of the software market to leverage himself into a similar position in the world of global health. . . .