You know Bill Gates as the Founder and CEO of the tech giant Microsoft—and consequently as one of the richest individuals in the world. However, you may not know that he is also one of the single most influential individuals within the Global Healthcare community.
As Gates has become one of the WHO’s main spokespeople for their development of a cure for COVID-19, Gates has proposed some solutions that are concerning in regards to our personal liberty and privacy, such as mandating a digital health tracking system. Here is everything you need to know about Bill Gates’s involvement with the cure for COVID-19 and the controversial debate concerning personal liberty.
Bill Gates and the World Health Organization (WHO)
Gates and his wife, Melinda, are the second-largest donors to the World Health Organization, coming in second only to the United States Government. That means that Gates and Melinda donate more to the WHO than the entire government of Great Britain! How much do the Gates give to the WHO? Since 2000, the Gates have given $4.8 billion to WHO research initiatives, and this number has become more significant as more countries fail to pay their dues to WHO. It comes at no surprise then that Gates holds an extreme amount of influence over the research directives.
The WHO exists primarily to monitor and strengthen healthcare initiatives in developing countries. However, Gates is more interested in developing cures for diseases, particularly polio and malaria. As a result, a disproportionate percentage of the WHO’s budget is directed towards malaria and polio eradication that instead could have been used to develop sustainable healthcare systems in third world countries.
Many of Gates’s critics claim that his concentration of influence over the WHO has diverted necessary funds from developing countries.
This isn’t to say that developing cures for polio and malaria aren’t noble causes, but many within the WHO are concerned that Gate’s enormous money ties to the WHO has turned into a “philanthropic monopoly.” An anonymous Geneva-based NGO representative said that Gates is “treated like a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20.” Many of his critics claim that his concentration of influence over the WHO has diverted necessary funds from developing countries that could have strengthened their healthcare to better combat the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19.
So What Do Gates’s Ties to the WHO Have To Do with the COVID-19 Pandemic?
As COVID-19 has dominated the attention of the global community, Gates has come into the spotlight due to his leadership in combating diseases with the WHO. However, many suspect that Gates has been withholding information concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and using the situation to further his own interests.
In October 2019, just months before the COVID-19 outbreak, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in conjunction with the World Economic Forum hosted a 3.5-hour tabletop simulation of a potential outbreak of a novel Coronavirus. During the tabletop simulation, Event 201, the participants predicted that the virus would kill millions, and they collaborated on the global economic and political measures necessary to combat a global pandemic. Though Gates and representatives from the World Economic Forum deny any foreknowledge or connection with the outbreak of COVID-19, many are skeptical that this could have been a mere coincidence, especially as Gates has poised himself as one of the world’s leaders in disease control.
In October 2019, The Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum hosted a 3.5-hour tabletop simulation of a potential outbreak of a novel Coronavirus.
As of March 13, immediately after countries began issuing border closures and travel bans, Gates stepped down from the board of Microsoft Inc. to “dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and climate change.” Since then, he has become one of the chief public figures concerning the global economic and political measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, as well as becoming a spokesperson for the WHO’s efforts in developing a cure for COVID-19.
But this isn’t the most controversial aspect of Gate’s uncanny connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 18, Bill and Melinda hosted an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on Reddit called “I’m Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AMA about COVID-19." During this live “Q&A” session over Reddit, one Reddit user asked Gates, “What changes are we going to have to make to how businesses operate to maintain our economy while providing social distancing?”
Gates’ response has gotten a lot of attention: “The question of which businesses should keep going is tricky. Certainly food supply and the health system. We still need water, electricity and the internet. Supply chains for critical things need to be maintained. Countries are still figuring out what to keep running. Eventually, we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”
Eventually, we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.
What does Gates mean by a “digital receipt” to track the data of a potential vaccine? Gates is referring to a quantum dot, a technology developed by MIT as a way of tracking vaccination records without needing a paper system.
Gates and ID2020
Bill Gates, through Microsoft Inc., has funded the ID2020 project which is building the technology to develop a “digital certificate.” In short, the digital certificate is a way to store an individual’s data, such as national documentation, health conditions, etc.
The mission of ID2020 is to eventually equip every individual around the globe with a digital certificate so that global organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the World Economic Forum, have the proper data to direct their initiatives. Currently, there are millions of undocumented individuals, from refugees fleeing war zones to people in untouched villages in developing nations. As of now, there isn’t a standard way of collecting data from these individuals, which presents numerous problems for international organizations. Gates and ID2020 want to utilize this nano-technology as a way of streamlining this data collection.
This certificate could be implanted as a quantum dot micro-tattoo that’s embedded into the skin. The mere proposal of such technology raises a number of ethical questions. Despite all of the pros to streamlining metadata for global organizations, at what cost will this technology come to our personal liberty? Would you consent to permanently hand your data and personal information over to a super-government entity? Furthermore, though this technology could be used for beneficial purposes, such as its current objective of streamlining data to benefit global development, it could just as easily be utilized for purposes that are detrimental to individual flourishing at the cost of our individual freedom.
Despite all of the pros to streamlining metadata for global organizations, at what cost will this digital technology come to our personal liberty?
The reason why this controversial technology has been trending in the mainstream media is due to Gates’s original response on Reddit—to use this technology to track COVID-19 data. Currently, the global healthcare community doesn’t have a standard method of collecting and sharing data, and as the global healthcare community attempts to collaborate to combat the virus, the data emerging is disparate, from the global spreading rate to the mortality rate. Gates believes that this technology could be the solution to the lack of standardized data. The digital certificates could automatically track who has had the virus, who has been vaccinated, what treatment the patient has received, who has recovered from the virus, and who has passed away.
Though this data would benefit the global healthcare community, at what cost does it come to our personal freedom? Furthermore, Gates’s involvement with developing a cure to COVID-19 through his connection with the WHO raises the concern if this technology will become a mandatory part of combating COVID-19.
Issuing a technology through a super-governmental entity such as the WHO during a time of crisis raises legitimate concerns about the protection of personal liberty. Though this technology might help standardize the data collection as the global health community continues to combat COVID-19, the long term detrimental consequences of surrendering our personal information to a super-governmental entity may outweigh the immediate benefit to the global healthcare community.