“It’s hard when you’re always afraid. You just recover when another belief is betrayed. So break my heart if you must. It’s a matter of trust.” – BILLY JOEL in “A Matter of Trust”
My Christian belief tells me I shouldn’t reject something I don’t understand; I shouldn’t disparage the proponents of correct thinking, law and order; I shouldn’t discriminate and abhor the merchants of good health and good tidings—unless they propagate bedlam and total chaos.
I should trust the authorities especially if they promote and uphold only what is good for the community, and what is best for humanity.
Trust, after all, is an attitude that we have towards people whom we hope will be trustworthy, where trustworthiness is a property not an attitude.
Trust and trustworthiness are therefore distinct although, ideally, those whom we trust will be trustworthy, and those who are trustworthy will be trusted.
“For trust to be plausible in a relationship, the parties to the relationship must have attitudes toward one another that permit trust,” says the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moreover, for trust to be well-grounded, both parties must be trustworthy.
Thus I am one of those who admire, support and endorse the advent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines—regardless of their origin and which pharmaceutical firm they were developed—as long as they have been approved by higher health authorities.
Why resort to pessimism when we can be optimistic in the time of pandemic?
In this subject matter, I’ve been waiting since middle of 2020 (around June when purveyors of conspiracy theories began cultivating the fear of the COVID-19 vaccines, associating them to the “microchip” rumors in a bid to instill widespread fear among the gullible) for Bill Gates to say something about the rumors since he had been linked in this brouhaha.
In between, I found the story by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Reality Checkers Jack Goodman and Flora Carmichael on the speculation about the coronavirus vaccine, which had been ramping up even as the social-media posts from anti-vaccination campaigners were gaining more traction online.
“Why the microchip rumors don’t stack up,” Goodman and Carmichael averred. “First up, a conspiracy theory about vaccines that has spanned the globe. It claims that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for a plan to implant trackable microchips and that the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it. We’ve found no evidence to support these claims.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the BBC the claim was “false.”
The head of the Russian Communist party reportedly declared that so-called “globalists” supported “a covert mass chip implantation which they may in time resort to under the pretext of a mandatory vaccination against coronavirus.”
He didn’t mention Mr. Gates by name but in the US, Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, said Bill Gates and others were using the virus for “microchipping people so we can tell ‘whether you’ve been tested.’”
The BBC Reality Checkers said a new YouGov poll of 1,640 people suggested that 28 percent of Americans believe that Bill Gates wants to use vaccines to implant microchips in people—with the figure rising to 44 percent among Republicans.
Rumors took hold in March when Mr. Gates said in an interview that eventually “we will have some digital certificates” which would be used to show who’d recovered, been tested and ultimately who received a vaccine. He made no mention of microchips.
That response led to one widely shared article, under the headline: “Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus.”
The article makes reference to a study, funded by The Gates Foundation, into a technology that could store someone’s vaccine records in a special ink administered at the same time as an injection.
However, the technology is not a microchip and is more like an invisible tattoo.
It has not been rolled out yet, would not allow people to be tracked and personal information would not be entered into a database, said Ana Jaklenec, a scientist involved in the study.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said: “The reference to ‘digital certificates’ relates to efforts to create an open-source digital platform with the goal of expanding access to safe, home-based testing.”
Gate reportedly did not say this about the vaccine.
The BBC Reality Checkers explained further: “The Microsoft billionaire has been the target of many different false rumors about vaccines.”
A recent post on a UK-based Twitter account reportedly said: “Bill Gates admits the vaccine will no doubt kill 700,000 people” and links to a video featuring right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“The claim in the tweet, which has had more than 45,000 retweets and likes, is false and misrepresents Gates’ words,” insisted the BBC Reality Checkers.
In the video, Mr. Gates is talking about the efficacy of vaccines in older people and cautions about the risk of side-effects.
He sets out a hypothetical situation about the potential harm of side-effects, saying:”If we have one in 10,000 side-effects, that’s way more… 700,000 people who will suffer from that.”
“He does not ‘admit’ 700,000 will die from a vaccine,” the BBC Reality Checker added. “Conspiracy theories about Bill Gates have reached the Italian Parliament, where an independent MP called for Bill Gates to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.”
In a recent development Gates was reported to have been alarmed at the volume of conspiracy theories around the coronavirus vaccination, but was confident that the world will largely return to normal by the end of 2021.
Delivering the keynote interview at the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers on Tuesday, Gates said, “I’m surprised at all the conspiracy theories — people who think the vaccine is not meant to save lives. That’s all wrong, but the scale of it is a bit scary in terms of, will that prevent people from being willing to take the vaccine, and why are they looking for these simple explanations?”
The stated goal of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s vaccine development and surveillance division is to advance public goods for global health through technological innovation by accelerating the development and commercialization of novel vaccines and the sustainable manufacture of existing vaccines.
The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo./WDJ