On Monday, December 7, the MP Zahra Sheikhi claimed in a tweet that Bill Gates, the owner of Microsoft Corporation, had said in a recent meeting: "I want to reduce the world's population by up to 15 percent through the vaccine."
Tweeting under the hashtag "covax", Sheikhi tried to convince her audience that the World Health Organization and Bill Gates are both in on a plan to cut the global population through looming vaccination programs.
Covax is the global Covid-19 vaccination alliance, to which more than 180 countries including Iran have now signed up. Its purpose is to aid in the equitable procurement, purchasing and distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world.
Zahra Sheikhi represents Isfahan in the Iranian parliament. But she also describes herself as a qualified doctor and is the spokeswoman for the parliamentary health committee, as well as the head of the Iranian Committee for Traditional Medicine. Her source for this claim, she said, was Tasnim News Agency.
In a report published on September 21, 2020, which was headlined "Is Bill Gate's plan to reduce the world's population going to be implemented by vaccination?!", Tasnim had quoted Bill Gates on a lecture he gave 10 years ago about the destructive effects of excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the activity that causes it.
It quoted him as saying: “We must try to reduce the volume of these components, to eventually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the world to zero. The first component is the world's population. There are currently 6.8 billion people living in the world, and that number will rise to nearly 9 billion in the future, but if we take the right steps towards new vaccinations, health care and reproductive care, we can reach 6.8 billion people. It reduces the number of people by 10 to 15 percent.”
To substantiate its claim, Tasnim displayed a three-minute video of Bill Gates giving a speech in a crowded hall, where he spoke about global warming and ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the video, Gates said he had repeatedly asked top scientists in the field if there was a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero or near zero, to which they had replied: "By the time we do so, the temperature will already have risen."
On average, Gates says, each person emits five tons of carbon dioxide. He considers the services needed to sustain every human being, the energy they consume, and the CO2 needed to produce energy, before going on to make the remarks cited by Tasneem. He goes on to qualify this, adding that even with healthcare measures, the population would still increase by 1.3 percent.
Nowhere in his speech does Bill Gates mention reducing the global population. Rather, he describes the human population as one of the causes of global warming, and explains that in any case, it cannot be reduced. The concluding section of the talk does not address the issue of population at all, but focuses on other “innovations” to reduce CO2 emissions.
Emphasizing the mention of "new vaccinations" a full 10 years later in the context of Covid-19, Tasnim went on to signpost its viewers toward a second video. This, it said, contained the “interesting explanations” of a man called Dr. Reza Montazer. In a filmed interview, the alleged physician discussed the possibility of the enemy launching “biological attacks” through imported vaccines, and described the features of “killer vaccines”, which he said could be used to give people chronic diseases or make them infertile. By matching these two elements, Tasnim was trying to insinuate to its audience that the goal of the Covid-19 vaccine is to annihilate a sizeable proportion of the world’s population.
Is Bill Gates' message reducing the population through vaccines?
Watching Bill Gates’ full 18-minute speech from 2010, from which a three-minute extract was taken to make Tasnim’s video, it is abundantly clear that this man is not trying to reduce the population but improve the lot of society. "We make vaccines so that humans can live healthier lives," Gates says at the very beginning of his speech.
Gates acknowledges that human activity is the driver behind excessive quantities of CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere. He says that new vaccines, combined with other improvements in healthcare, could slow population growth by 10 to 15 percent – but the population would still continue to grow.
The only way to reduce CO2 emissions, Gates says, is to develop new technologies. He then explicitly says that he does not want to reduce the world’s population, but innovate, in order to reduce the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere to zero. He suggests funding research, providing incentives to people and groups to reduce emissions, creating entrepreneurial opportunities, and implementing a “rational” regulatory framework.
Sadly, the belief in a powerful elite trying to reduce or control the population through vaccines is not limited to Iran. The “anti-vax” movement is global and has a lengthy history, going back to 1796 when the first people were inoculated against chickenpox. With the arrival of Covid-19, supporters of the movement have once again pulled their placards out of their closets and are trying, in various ways, to drum up opposition to people being protected from an extremely contagious and potentially deadly disease.
Bill Gates is targeted by these smear campaigns because one of the main activities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the production and distribution of vaccines. In various speeches, including the one mentioned in this article, Bill Gates has expressed his interest in making vaccines to help the health of the people of the world.
In addition, his foundation is one of four partners – alongside the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank – of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: a public-private organization that works to improve access to immunization in poorer countries, and which is presently co-leading the Covax initiative.
Members of the anti-vax movement are against the idea of mass immunization and are trying to discredit the idea in the context of Covid-19, often resorting to false claims – including the one shared by Zahra Sheikhi.
Professional fact-checkers at the US organization Snopes have also investigated this same claim and found it to be roundly false. “Gates,” they explained with reference to the original speech, “is not interested in using vaccines to reduce the population by using them as an agent of death or a tool to sterilize unsuspecting masses. Rather, Gates is interested in keeping more children alive in order to reduce the need for parents to have more children, thus limiting the overall population growth rate.”
Zahra Sheikhi, the representative of Isfahan in the Iranian parliament and the spokesperson for the parliamentary health committee, claimed in a tweet on December 7, 2020 that Bill Gates had said he wanted to reduce the world’s population by up to 15 percent using the coronavirus vaccine. Her source was Tasnim News Agency.
The Tasnim report wilfully misunderstood what Bill Gates had said during an 18-minute speech made 10 years ago about the environmental benefits of vaccine programs and health measures, which could slow population growth driven by poverty and insecurity but not reduce the population. Bill Gates' main argument was actually to support innovations to reduce carbon dioxide while improving human and environmental health.
The story came at a time when the global anti-vaccine movement has been spreading disinformation to try to discredit the coming Covid-19 vaccination programs supported by Covax. Its central claim has already been debunked by a professional fact-checking team.
IranWire therefore considers the claim of Zahra Sheikhi, who calls herself a doctor, that Bill Gates is trying to use the Covid-19 vaccine to reduce the population, to be a "Pinocchio's lie”: a statement that has already been established or proven to be untrue based on existing research and evidence.
You can find out more about our fact-checking methodology here.