Just over three weeks ago I came across an email sent to Australia’s premier anti-vaccination organisation, headed India kicks out Gates Foundation. The author offered a YouTube link and the observation “Some good news. Conflict of interest in vaccine policy & Gates ties with big pharma.”
I followed the link and ended up at The Corbett Report channel and an episode of New World Next Week, entitled India kicks out Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This exercise in conspiracy theory and misinformation was presented by James Corbett and James Evan Pilato – the latter of Media Monarchy. The channel blurb tells us that the gig, “covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news”. No, really.
During the introduction James Evan Pilato tells us, “Bill Gates gets the boot, we’ve got that story…”. When he finally gets to “that story” Pilato cherry picks enough material to tell a nodding Corbett that;
A lotta times it’s kinda like whack a mole with eugenics obsessed so-called elites like the Gates Foundation but we’ll take a good whack on ’em. James…?
How utterly charming.
Corbett thinks this is “exactly right” but is not sure this spells “the end of Gates’ immunisation plans”.
Sigh. Perhaps Corbett might have simply stated that he’d read what was being reported by Reuters, a day before Corbett Report was uploaded. Primarily, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have not been “kicked out” of India. Nor is it true, as the masters of feverish antivaccinationism at Vac Truth proclaimed, that “India holds Bill Gates accountable for his vaccine crimes”. And no, the Foundation has not been “found guilty of fraud” as another den of Internet rubbish contended.
This issue is about image, perceived “conflict of interest issues” and the influence of India-centric forces upon government. So who is involved and how does it line up?
India’s peak immunisation advisory body is the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). This body was being serviced by the Immunisation Technical Support Unit (ITSU). The ITSU is funded by the BMGF. This funding arrangement has been in place for years. The ITSU monitors and strategises New Delhi’s immunisation programme which is estimated to reach 27 million infants per year.
Around 2000, the BMGF initially committed $750 million to the Vaccine Alliance (newly launched GAVI) and presently have donated over $1.5 billion. GAVI is partnered with large vaccine companies. A fact that is integral to GAVI’s funding and co-financing policies.
It is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation backing of GAVI that leads to the apparent conflict of interest. But why is this a problem?
The Indian government’s decision comes after influence from senior medical officials and organisations such as Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM). SJM is firmly opposed to multinational corporations and operates under an India-centric philosophy. The argument raised time and again against the present immunisation funding arrangement is that it may shape vaccination policy and strategy.
In December 2015 an independent policy watchdog released a study advising caution against international philanthropy and BMGF for this very reason. Nonetheless India had already implemented a wide raft of restrictions on non-governmental organisations to ensure more effective decision making in major policy areas. In 2016 dozens of foreign-funded health experts working in public welfare were dismissed by order of the Indian government.
According to Reuters a spokeswoman for the ITSU recently said the grant ends this month, and;
We are in advanced stages of discussion with the ministry on the contours of the next phase of technical support.
The perception of a possible conflict of interest leading to vaccine policy influence means that the government, and not BMGF, will now fund a key ITSU unit responsible for assisting the NTAGI. A senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan said of the funding change that the government felt there was a need to completely manage it on its own. On February 8th she told Reuters;
There was a perception that an external agency is funding it, so there could be influence.
Swaminathan, however, stressed there were no instances of influence found and the decision was only in part prompted by a wider perception about foreign funding of the program.
The ITSU also runs units responsible for tracking vaccination coverage and logistics management. These will continue to be funded by BMGF.
Thus the tale of Gates being kicked out of India for fraud and “vaccine crimes” is slanderous fiction. Even the claim that his ties to pharmaceutical companies reveal a conflict of interest demanding banishment is in error. Merely the perception of a conflict of interest may exist. It has been argued that ties to the pharmaceutical industry may influence India’s vaccination strategy.
The reprehensible contention that Bill Gates or the BMGF are involved in eugenics or seek population control via genocide that’s inexplicably caused by vaccines, is a favourite revulsion spread by antivaccinationists, based upon one intentionally misrepresented statement from Bill Gates.
Other quotes from Gates reveal how far from reality this notion is;
The metric of success is lives saved, kids who aren’t crippled. Which is slightly different than units sold, profits achieved. But it’s all very measurable, and you can set ambitious goals and see how you do.
I’d be deeply disappointed, [if in the next 25 years he can’t lower the death toll by 80%. Otherwise,] we’re just not doing our job very well.
Melinda Gates has observed;
If a mother and father know their child is going to live to adulthood, they start to naturally reduce their population size.
Those against vaccines are of course against Gates. Misrepresenting the relationship between vaccine preventable disease and population growth is something antivaccinationists do purposefully, due to the internalisation of conspiracy theories or through an inability to understand evidence.
Two years before the BMGF was formed Gates and his wife funded a John Hopkins project to use computers to educate women in the developing world about contraception. Family planning has become a key focus of BMGF. Initially there was a basic equation involved.
Health = resources ÷ population.
A similar formula underscored his multibillion-dollar funding of education reform. With smaller class sizes teachers could devote more time to students, resulting in better educated and smarter children.
Success = teachers ÷ students.
Where vaccine preventable diseases ravage communities in developing countries parents face the probability their children will die or be disabled. If not, long periods of illness severely compromise the chances of completing a comprehensive education which may be followed with further study or employment. Faced with this harsh reality families will consequently be large, increasing the chances of children surviving to adulthood and being able to contribute to family and community life.
The availability of vaccines removes these hardships. Children have the opportunity to survive, remain healthy and grow to adulthood. More so they can do this with a basic education, a university education and far greater chances in the employment market. In this way families do not have to be as large and children can advance to a socioeconomic status greater than their parents. As Melinda Gates so succinctly put it, when parents know their children will live a healthy life, a reduction in population size is natural.
Other unjustified claims levelled by the anti-vaccine lobby against the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation relate to accusations of reckless HPV vaccine administration in India by the trial’s managers resulting in fatalities and illness. In short serious vaccine injury. BMGF had funded the $3.6 million HPV vaccine trial, which was halted following the deaths of seven girls involved. The trial’s managers were absolved by state investigations. The managers were the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in New Delhi.
Five were evidently unrelated to the vaccine: One girl drowned in a quarry; another died from a snake bite; two committed suicide by ingesting pesticides; and one died from complications of malaria. The causes of death for the other two girls were less certain: one possibly from pyrexia, or high fever, and a second from a suspected cerebral hemorrhage.
Government investigators concluded that the link between vaccination and pyrexia was “very unlikely” and between stroke and vaccine “unlikely”. However in 2010 a health ministry appointed panel concluded there were shortcomings and ethical lapses in the trial. In August 2013 an all-party parliamentary panel came down very harshly on PATH, and levelled an “astonishing allegation” accusing PATH of ignoring women’s health in the hope of convincing India to add HPV vaccination to it’s roster.
PATH released a statement which included;
…we strongly disagree with the findings, conclusions, and tone of the released report and its disregard of the evidence and facts.
Although the BMGF was not targetted by the panel for it’s role in funding, it said in a statement;
[That] the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India all have recommended vaccination “as a proven and highly effective preventive measure for cervical cancer.”
Read the Science article for a better understanding of this controversy.
One should not be surprised at this latest attempt to smear the name of BMGF given the history of antivaccinationists misrepresenting evidence. This piece from Skeptical Raptor covers “anti-vaccine hatred” levelled at Gates’ vaccination programmes in Africa. I’m not surprised to see Mike Adams of Natural News feature with a splendid pack of lies.
What we can be absolutely sure of at present is that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has not been “kicked out of India”, for the imagined vaccine crimes and fraud that antivaccinationists would have unsuspecting readers believe. They still fund tracking vaccination coverage and logistics management at India’s ITSU. The ITSU will be partially funded by India’s health ministry. The changes are part of India’s larger clampdown on non-governmental organisations to allow control over policy decisions.
Whilst India ordered the dismissal of foreign-funded health experts last year the BMGF was not one. The so-called “Gates ties with Big Pharma” relate to vaccine policy design and are perceived only, due to the BMGF backing of GAVI. A senior health ministry official stressed there were no instances of policy design influence found.
And no. Bill Gates has not, does not and will not use vaccines for eugenics or as an instrument of global depopulation.
He has never proposed anything of the sort.