Fact check: No evidence Bill Gates said ‘at least 3 billion people need to die’

A video viewed thousands of times on social media attributes to Bill Gates a quote about “sterilization and population control”. The clip shows a man saying: “In the words of Bill Gates, at least 3 billion people need to die”. Reuters found no evidence Gates ever made such a statement.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirmed to Reuters via email that this claim is false.

An iteration posted to Instagram on Jan. 25 ( here ) was viewed over half a million times three days later. The clip was also shared on TikTok ( ),  Facebook ( here )  and YouTube ( here ). 

The viral clip does not feature Bill Gates, but a man identified as “Dr. Robert O. Young” who is allegedly quoting Gates during a panel entitled “International Tribunal for Natural Justice”, a group that has spread conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic, news reports say ( here , here ).

The more than 90-minute video was posted on YouTube ( ) on Nov. 20, 2019.

In the clip circulating on social media, Young says: "For the purpose of sterilization and population control, there’s too many people on the planet we need to get rid of. In the words of Bill Gates, at least three billion people need to die” (audible around 1:33:03, ).

Young, a promoter of the “alkaline diet” to cure diseases (a theory discredited by experts and explained  here ), was convicted in 2016 for practising medicine without a licence and spent several months in jail ( here   , here ).

Reuters found no evidence that Gates ever made this or any similar statement. A Google search of the claim brought up fact check articles debunking this allegation and articles addressing how Gates has been a target of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The alleged quote appears to be a misrepresentation of a statement Gates gave at a TED conference in 2010 ( here ), which has been repeatedly taken out of context (see for example here , here ). As part of a talk on reducing CO2 emissions to zero, he said: “First, we've got population. 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.”

As previously explained by Reuters  here , in his speech he was not suggesting the global population should be killed by use of vaccines.

Gates has long been a proponent of slowing unsustainable population growth ( here ) by targeting the root causes of poverty and unrest, and told Forbes magazine in 2011 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 contraception to saving people already alive. He told Forbes: “We moved pretty heavily into vaccines once we understood that.”

Some iterations ( here   , here around timestamp 4:33), also show Young referring to a fabricated quote attributed to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about “mandatory vaccination”. Reuters previously debunked this here .

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gates has been a constant target of disinformation ( here , here  ). In an interview with Reuters this month here ,  he said he was taken aback by the volume of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories about him spreading on social media during the pandemic and would like to explore what is behind them.


False. There is no evidence Bill Gates said “at least 3 billion people need to die”. The statement appears to be a misrepresentation of his view on slowing population growth through improving access to healthcare, including vaccination and contraception.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here  .