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Bill Gates said it’s hard to deny vaccine conspiracy theories involving him because they’re ‘so stupid’

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Bill Gates said it's hard to deny vaccine conspiracy theories involving him because they're 'so stupid'

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  • The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that it was “almost hard to deny” the conspiracy theories surrounding him and vaccines “because it’s so stupid.”
  • Misinformation has circulated in recent weeks falsely claiming that Gates is behind a plot to use vaccines to implant microchips in people.
  • When asked about a Yahoo News/YouGov poll that found in late May that 28% of Americans, including 44% of Republicans and 50% of people who primarily watch Fox News, said they thought this was true, he said it was “a little bit concerning.”
  • Gates, whose foundation on Thursday pledged an additional $1.6 billion toward vaccinating children in low-income countries, said that while misinformation hadn’t “held up” the global funding effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, it could make it harder to reach herd immunity when a vaccine is found.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

During a call with reporters on Wednesday, the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates shrugged off baseless conspiracy theories about him being behind a plot to use vaccines to implant tracking microchips in people.

“I’ve never been involved any sort of microchip-type thing,” he said, adding, “It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange.”

Gates has for years sounded the alarm about the dangers of pandemics and urged world leaders, including Donald Trump in late 2016, to take stronger steps to prepare for one. He famously gave a TED Talk in 2015 that warned of the potentially staggering death toll of a worldwide pandemic.

Citing that talk and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $300 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and develop a vaccine, some right-wing fringe groups and pundits began spreading misinformation online in January that Gates was somehow behind the virus’ creation and wanted to profit from it.

“It is good to know which kids have had a measles vaccine and which have not,” Gates said, adding that “there are needed systems” like health records to help healthcare workers identify who has been immunized — but that no microchips were involved whatsoever.

“Our foundation gets money to buy vaccines,” he said. “That’s why we saw the risk of a pandemic and spoke out.”

Still, coronavirus-related conspiracy theories about Gates exploded on social media and TV: They were mentioned 1.2 million times from February to April, the media intelligence firm Zignal Labs told The New York Times.

In a survey in late May conducted by Yahoo News and YouGov, 28% of Americans said they thought the conspiracy theory was true, while 44% of Republicans and 50% of people who primarily watch Fox News viewers said they thought it was true. (By contrast, 61% of people who primarily watch MSNBC said it was false.)

When asked about the poll, Gates said that he found it “a little bit concerning” but that it hadn’t prevented governments and other groups across the globe from funding efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, he did express some concern that when a vaccine is found, anti-vaccine sentiment could make it harder to reach herd immunity, or when enough of a population is immune to a pathogen that it prevents it from spreading further.

Gates also argued that when vaccines are ready to manufacture, they should be distributed first to countries with weaker healthcare infrastructure and where social distancing is less feasible. His foundation on Thursday announced an additional $1.6 billion pledge over the next five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to immunize children in low-income countries.

“The world needs to work together to develop safe and effective vaccines and make sure that we scale up the manufacturing so we can get them out to those need them the most, not necessarily those who can pay the most,” he said.

Brittany Chang, Ben Gilbert, and Shaena Montanari contributed reporting to this story.

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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