Back to Africa Check

Bill Gates not testing Covid-19 vaccine in Africa

A message circulating on social media in Nigeria claims that US billionaire Bill Gates wants to “sell” a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa – to destroy the continent.

One version, a screenshot posted on Facebook on 31 March 2020, shows Didier Raoult, the French doctor who promoted chloroquine as a cure for coronavirus. It says the doctor has called on Africans “not to take Bill Gates vaccine”. (Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of Africa Check’s funders, providing 18% of our income in 2018.) 

It then attributes this quote to Raoult: “I call on Africans not to take the vaccine that will soon be sold against coronavirus. This vaccine contains poison and the West want to destroy Africa on the pretext that it is the coronavirus that destroyed the Africa. Why don’t they start their vaccine in Italy, Spain and France, where there are a lot of cases? I call on African leaders to caution. The only vaccine and antidote to fight coronavirus is chloroquine. I want this message share to all of Africa.”

Suspicion about a coronavirus vaccine has seemingly been fuelled by two French doctors, Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Lochte, saying on live TV that Covid-19 vaccine trials should be done in Africa, “where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation”.

Is Gates really about to send a coronavirus vaccine to Africa?

Quote not linked to Raoult

A search Raoult on Facebook yielded a few accounts and pages with his name and photo. Some of the accounts have no post. One had a few posts made on 25 March 2020. Other pages were only created in late March.  

None of them had the quote about Gates’s coronavirus vaccine for Africa. It was also not found in Raoult’s Twitter timeline.  

An organisation he leads, IHU Méditerranée Infection, a research centre in Marseille, France, told AFP that Raoult did not make such a statement.

Coronavirus vaccine at least 18 months away

In an article on the Covid-19 pandemic published on 28 February 2020, Gates said the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations had prepared up to eight promising vaccine candidates for clinical trials. 

“If one or more of these vaccines proves safe and effective in animal models, they could be ready for larger-scale trials as early as June,” he said

CEO of the Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, told CNN that efforts are being made to develop a coronavirus vaccine as quickly as possible. But it will still take at least 18 months.

There is no evidence that the coronavirus vaccine currently being developed with support from the Gates Foundation and other partners will be tested in Africa.

WHO condemns French doctors’ comments

The claim has also been debunked by the World Health Organization. On 6 April WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, condemned the comments by Mira and Locht.

“Africa can't and won't be a testing ground for any vaccine,” Ghebreyesus said. – Allwell Okpi


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.