Bill Gates Jokes About Tracking People With Vaccines

Bill Gates made a dry joke about tracking people using COVID vaccines while giving a talk about pandemic prevention.

The billionaire, the co-founder and former CEO of tech giant Microsoft, has been a global health advocate for years, warning about impending pandemics years before COVID emerged and committing billions in funding for the development of vaccines.

Since 2020, however, Gates has been at the center of some COVID conspiracy theories, including one that claims vaccination against the virus is actually an excuse to implant people with tracking microchips.

The theory became so widespread that according to one YouGov survey in May 2020 almost 45 percent of people polled in the U.S. who identified as Republicans said they believed 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."

Just under 20 percent of Democrats and about 24 percent of Independents said they believed the statement.

Gates has always said the theory was false. He took aim at the theories again at a TED talk that was held last week.

During the talk Gates discussed strategies for fighting future pandemics and proposed a Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization (GERM) team that would work specifically to detect potential disease outbreaks, comparing them to firefighters.

At the end, Gates was asked by TED official Helen Walters how he deals with criticism from vaccine skeptics.

"Well, it's kind of weird," he said, to laughter from the crowd. "Now, our foundation, the Gates Foundation, is very involved in vaccines, the invention of new vaccines, funding vaccines, and we're very proud that through joint efforts like GAVI, that's saved tens of millions of lives.

"So it's somewhat ironic to have somebody turn around and say no, we're using vaccines to kill people or to make money or, you know, we started the pandemic… even some strange things like that I somehow want to track the location of individuals because I'm so deeply desirous to know where everybody is. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that information."

Gates added that he hoped people would become "more rational" about vaccines as the pandemic winds down.

It's not the first time this year that Gates has dismissed such conspiracy theories. In January, during a Twitter interview with Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Gates said: "People like you and I and [Anthony] Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation. I didn't expect that. Some of it like me putting chips in arms doesn't make sense to me—why would I want to do that?"

Bill Gates
Bill Gates speaks at the Global Investment Summit in London, U.K., in October, 2021. The tech billionaire and global health advocate has been the subject of COVID conspiracy theories. Leon Neal/WPA Pool / Getty