During a call with reporters on Wednesday, the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates shrugged off baseless conspiracy theories about him being behind a plot to use vaccines to implant tracking microchips in people.
“I’ve never been involved any sort of microchip-type thing,” he said, adding, “It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange.”
Gates has for years sounded the alarm about the dangers of pandemics and urged world leaders, including Donald Trump in late 2016, to take stronger steps to prepare for one. He famously gave a TED Talk in 2015 that warned of the potentially staggering death toll of a worldwide pandemic.
Citing that talk and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $300 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and develop a vaccine, some right-wing fringe groups and pundits began spreading misinformation online in January that Gates was somehow behind the virus’ creation and wanted to profit from it.
Read more: Bill Gates said it’s hard to deny vaccine conspiracy theories involving him because they’re ‘so stupid’ (Oh, they’re true then)