Did Bill Gates admit he has COVID-19? No, that's not true: A headline on a 20-second video posted online claims that Gates "admits he has COVID-19." The short video is deceptively edited from a longer video of Gates speaking with the head of the TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference in mid-2020, discussing what he predicted would be the number of fatalities from COVID-19. Gates is not talking about himself; he was discussing the virus.
The claim appeared as a video published by the account Great White 7 on YouTube on December 21, 2020, titled, "Bill Gates admits he has COVID19 (symptoms included talking)." (archived here) which opened:
BILL GATES SAID FIRST SYMPTOMS OF COVID ARE SINGING LAUGHING & TALKING!
Click below to watch the video on YouTube:
The 20-second video showed Gates in a split screen talking about COVID-19 symptoms, presumably. He does not mention COVID-19 in the short video. Here is what he said:
Uh, the amount of pre-symptomatic and never-symptomatic spread and the fact that it's not coughing where you would kind of notice, 'Hey I'm coughing' -- most respiratory diseases make you cough. This one, in its early stages, it's not coughing it's singing, laughing, talking."
The video is selectively edited. Gates did not admit that he had COVID-19 nor did he say the first symptoms of the coronavirus were singing, laughing, or talking. Gates was speaking during a virtual conversation with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, recorded on June 29, 2020. The video on the TED website is titled, "How the pandemic will shape the near future."
Gates was asked by Anderson to share what he believed, "the current fatality numbers are, approximately, going forward, like as a percentage of total cases? Are we below one percent, perhaps?"
Gates responded with a longer explanation that was clipped and taken out of context in the video that went viral. The full text of what he said is here:
If you found every case, yes, you're well below one percent. People argue, you know, 0.4, 0.5. By the time you bring in the never-symptomatics, it probably is below 0.5, and that's good news. This disease could have been a five-percent disease. The transmission dynamics of this disease are more difficult than even the experts predicted. The amount of pre-symptomatic and never-symptomatic spread and the fact that it's not coughing, where you would kind of notice, "Hey, I'm coughing" -- most respiratory diseases make you cough. This one, in its early stages, it's not coughing, it's singing, laughing, talking, actually, still, particularly for the super-spreaders, people with very high viral loads, causes that spread, and that's pretty novel, and so even the experts have to say, "Wow, this caught us by surprise." The amount of asymptomatic spread and the fact that there's not a coughing element is not a major piece like the flu or TB."