1st July 2022

UK Column: The Bill and Melinda Gates Con-sortium

by Malcolm Massey, article published at www.ukcolumn.org

Sunday, 19th April 2020

In February this year, Global Justice Now criticised the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalism”, calling for the foundation to be subject to an international investigation as a result of its global activities. “The World is being sold a myth … [the Gates Foundation] has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most influential voice in international development,” said the report.

Bill Gates has made it clear that in his opinion the world should remain in lockdown “until we have a vaccine that we’ve gotten out to basically the entire world.”

On 11 April 2020, it was announced that a drug had been found that could act as a treatment whilst the world waits for a vaccine.

BenevolentAI, a company that uses AI to discover and develop generic medicines, ‘rediscovered’ Baricitinib, a drug used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. BenevolentAI predicts Baricitinib will inhibit the Covid–19 infection of human lungs and reduce inflammatory damage. BenevolentAI says that Baricitinib should not be seen as a ‘cure’, owing to the fact that 80% of people suffering from the virus will recover without any intervention, but that the drug will be used to treat those that present the worst symptoms.

Baricitinib was approved by the EU for use as a drug to treat Arthritis in February 2017 at a dose of 4 mg. In the US, however, the Food and Drug Administration delayed its approval by several months while they carried out more research on dosage. The FDA eventually approved Baricitnib at a 2 mg dose, refusing the 4 mg dose due to adverse side effects.

Baricitinib was put forward by BenevolentAI as a possible treatment for Covid–19 in February 2020. By early March, investigator-led studies began recruiting and treating infected patients.

Who is behind BenevolentAI?

In two words: Bill Gates. Let’s see how:

BenevolentAI receives millions of pounds worth of funding from Upsher-Smith, a US pharmaceutical company.

Upsher-Smith’s Chief Information Officer is Gray Knowlton, who previously worked for Microsoft and the Gates Foundation for more than ten years. Knowlton is responsible for Upsher-Smith’s long term strategy as well as their ‘go-to-market’ strategy, which determines how they will reach customer targets and achieve a competitive advantage.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bought 500,000 Goldman Sachs shares in 2010. Goldman Sachs funds BenevolentAI.

Temasek Holdings, a Singaporean investment company, has substantial investments with Benevolent AI, as well as a joint interest with the Gates Foundation with another global tech-based company, VIR Biotechnology, whose global mission is to help rid the world of infectious disease and to whom GlaxoSmithKline, a company heavily linked to the Gates Foundation, recently pledged some $250 million dollars in order to help find a Covid–19 vaccine.

Woodford Investment Management, owned by disgraced British-born investor Neil Woodford, was another investor in BenevolentAI until its collapse in October 2019. In 2015 Neil Woodford and the Gates Foundation joined forces by investing $90 m​​​illion in biopharmaceutical company Kymab.

Finally, by coincidence, Baricitinib is produced by Eli Lilly — another pharmaceutical company in which, as we shall see in a moment, Bill Gates has considerable interests.

The Broader Bill Gates Networks

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lists approximately 69 different organisations that receive money from their organisation, 46 of which are health care based organisations, of which there are 30 that specialise in the production, manufacturing or distribution of drugs and vaccines.

Bill Gates stood down from his role as CEO to Microsoft in 2000. In 2002 he sold approximately 1.3% of his holdings in Microsoft, generating somewhere in the region of half a billion dollars. He used this capital to invest in the pharmaceutical industry, most notably Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, the company that is currently trialing Baricitinib for Covid-19.

Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer all donate millions of dollars, along with the Gates foundation, to the ‘Dementia Discovery Fund’. The same companies have aligned to expand healthcare access to 1.7 million people across Africa, pledging between them $18 million to two NGOs: Living Good and Last Mile Health.

GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and the Gates Foundation are also partners with Immunicore, a leading T-cell receptor biotechnology company.

The Gates Foundation also gives millions of pounds to Elanco, an animal health division of Eli Lilly.

The Covid–19 pandemic will see the relationship between these companies get even tighter. The recent announcement that ‘Life Sciences companies’ will commit their expertise in a bid to fight the current pandemic will see fifteen pharmaceutical companies share data with the ‘Covid–19 Therapeutic Accelerator’, which was launched by the Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard several weeks ago.

Amongst those 15 organisations are the usual suspects: Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer.

In early March, Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks had told CNBC that his company is hoping to start testing a ‘cure’ for Covid–19 in the summer, and had teamed up with AbCellera, a company that had, back in March 2018, been granted a contract by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop rapid countermeasures against viral outbreaks in order to develop ‘field-ready’ medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of a viral pathogen.

The Gates Foundation, as well as Eli Lilly, has given substantial amounts of money to German-based pharmaceutical CureVac, a company considered as a pioneer for the development of vaccines — the former also granting money to two more programmes, one of which was for a novel flu vaccine in 2018 (the same year AbCellera was working with DARPA on a pandemic response).

The Gates Foundation also invests heavily in health surveillance, investing $105 million to set up the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which evaluates strategies used to tackle healthcare and provides information and advice to policymakers.

It funds ‘Access to Medicine’, which ranks twenty of the world’s largest research based pharmaceutical companies and cites itself as a ‘tool for driving change in the pharmaceutical industry.’ Such measures certainly put pressure on an industry heavily reliant on grants and funding, in which reputation is paramount. The opinions of such institutions as these created by the Gates Foundation have the power to drive and steer professionals in one particular way or another.

Mainstream Criticism of Gates

Such large grants have undoubtedly given the Gates Foundation unprecedented influence, but they have not come without criticism.

One study showed that, of the $9 billion for 1094 global health grants between 1998 and 2007, a third was given to the research and development of vaccines and microbicides. According to the chief malaria officer at the World Health Organisation, this has created a situation where it is difficult to find independent peer review, as researchers are afraid to criticise each other in fear that they will not get a much-needed grant from the Gates Foundation.

Others in the field have commented that this sort of behaviour constrains research, forces undemocratic decisions and ultimately forces people to engage in the grantors’ agenda, in this case that of the Gates Foundation. As an author of an investigation about the Gates Foundation’s priorities and decision-making process concluded, “What we have is a private actor with a huge degree of influence, but not really a mechanism by which that influence is held to public account.”

Either way, as lockdown continues to hamper the lives of millions of people, and destroy thousands upon thousands of businesses, we are continually told that lockdown is here to stay until we have a vaccine — undoubtedly under the advice of the healthcare- and pharmaceutical-led professionals who in some way shape or form fall within reach of the Gates Foundation.

Whichever of the large pharmaceutical corporations ends up producing a vaccine, the Gates Foundation stands to make a solid financial return on its investment. It is unlikely that any one company will have the ability, let alone the resources, to produce vaccinations for seven billion people, as Gates is suggesting.

All the better to form a consortium and pool resources.

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