Bill Gates, Trevor Noah, death threats & that vaccine: how it all went wrong

Bill Gates has been slammed but all of the rumours are false.
Bill Gates has been slammed but all of the rumours are false.
Image: Matthew Knight/Pool via REUTERS

Conspiracy theories claiming that Bill Gates had proposed to test a Covid-19 “vaccine” in Africa saw the billionaire and philanthropist being slammed at the weekend.

The Microsoft founder, who has been vocal about his pledge to fight the spread of Covid-19, saw his name making the top trends list on social media after it was reported that he said he would be providing the vaccine test and Africa would be the “testing ground”. 

The reports were false and Gates has never said Africa would be a “testing ground” for a vaccine.

Here is how it all went wrong:

Conspiracy theories

Comments attributed to French doctor Dr Didier Raoult allegedly claimed that Gates was working on a vaccine for Covid-19 and it would be tested in Africa first. 

According to a Medium report, the now-deleted comments were shared on French-speaking groups and pages on Facebook.

A website called based in California, US, published a story in which Raoult allegedly called on Africans not to take Gates’ “Covid-19 vaccine”.


AFP debunked the Facebook claims after contacting IHU Méditerranée Infection, the university hospital institute in Marseille, France, where Raoult works.

According to the publication, the institution said Raoult did not write the widely circulated message about Gates.

Trevor Noah's interview

South African comedian Trevor Noah interviewed Gates about Covid-19 and his plans to fight the virus on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa posted a clip from the interview with Noah and said the Gates Foundation had offered SA assistance with testing kits and research.

News24 and The South African published stories claiming Gates wanted to test the vaccine in SA.

News24 has since removed the story, issued an apology and instituted an investigation into how the story got published.

The outrage

The Gates fake news garnered attention around the continent.

Many, including former Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba, expressed on social media that Africa should not be used as a testing lab in a trial.

Death threats

According to Noah, the misinformation that was published saw him being bombarded with hate messages including that he was selling out his people.

He slammed a Twitter user on Saturday, asking: “Where in this entire interview do you hear either of us saying a vaccine will be tested in Africa?”

What Gates really said 

Noah and Gates had a discussion about Covid-19 testing and accelerating vaccine developments.

Gates also commended Ramaphosa for his commitment to fighting the coronavirus.

Watch the full interview below


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