A comment from Bill Gates about vaccines and population growth has again been taken out of context.
On social media, one post asked: “so you’r [sic] telling me , the same guy that said “ we can lower the amount of people on earth with vaccines “is now making a vaccine and the people cant [sic] wait to get injected with it …..” (here)
The misinterpretation stems from a comment Gates made during a TED talk in 2010 about methods for reducing the world’s carbon emissions to zero (here). Crucially, one of the factors pushing carbon emissions to an unsustainable level is population growth.
“First, we’ve got population,” he said during the talk organized by TED, a non-profit organization devoted to spreading ideas. “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent. But there, we see an increase of about 1.3.”
However, Gates was not suggesting the global population should be killed off using vaccines. He is instead saying that improving public health using vaccinations can reduce unsustainable population growth in the future – and with it, lower carbon emissions.
The Microsoft co-founder has long been a proponent of population control to target the roots of poverty and unrest (here).
In 2011, he told Forbes magazine that when he first entered public health it was to focus on contraception (here).
When he later saw data suggesting that when mortality rates fall, so, too, do birth rates, Gates shifted his focus from preventing births to saving people already alive.
“We moved pretty heavily into vaccines once we understood that,” he told Forbes.
Missing context. In a talk about reducing CO2 emissions, Gates said improving healthcare through vaccination could bring future population growth to a sustainable level, and with it, carbon emissions.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.
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