Gates or Germany? Who ‘Owns’ the WHO’s COVID-19 Response?
CommentaryThe idea that Bill Gates is somehow the driving force behind the WHO’s vaccine-centric COVID-19 response is very widespread—at least on Twitter. But this notion recently received some unexpected support from a mainstream media source: Politico, the online news service that was started in D.C. in the naughts, launched a Brussels-based European edition in partnership with the German media giant Springer in 2015, and was fully acquired by the German firm last year. Citing anonymous sources and tossing out astronomic, but largely undocumented, funding figures, a massive, meandering “investigation” by Politico and Springer’s flagship German broadsheet, Die Welt, claimed to show that, just as Twitterers have suspected, it is Bill Gates and his “network” of organizations that have “controlled” the world’s COVID-19 response, after all. The Springer/Politico “investigation” focuses, in particular, on the alleged influence of Gates and his “network” over the WHO—as well it should, since the WHO has, of course, been the main vector of the coordinated, global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the problem is that an abundance of publicly available information makes unmistakably clear that the driving force behind the WHO’s COVID-19 response is in fact none other than Germany and that—surprisingly in light of the furor over Gates—Gates has in fact played only a very minor role. This should not in fact be surprising, since the WHO itself has long acknowledged that “Germany is the top supporter of WHO’s COVID-19 response” (see here). But since it appears to have largely escaped notice, let us have a look at the details, starting with the below graph. The graph shows the leading contributors to the WHO’s COVID-19 response budget in the first year of the pandemic, 2020. The official name of the program is the (C19) Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP). The graph was generated directly from the WHO’s own SPRP funding database. As can be seen, Germany was far and away the top contributor. Its $425 million contribution represented more than 30 percent of the total $1.34 billion effective budget. To put this in perspective, Germany’s 80 million inhabitants represent around 1 percent of the world’s total population. The European Commission, under the leadership of former German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen, was the 3rd largest contributor, providing $81 million. Germany and the German-dominated EU together thus provided $506 million or over 36 percent of the C-19 response budget in 2020. And where was Bill Gates? Or, more exactly, where was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is indeed a major contributor to the WHO in other areas? The below graph shows us: in 18th place in the funding hierarchy, two places behind Yemen. The Gates Foundation’s effective contribution of $14.5 million represented around 1 percent of the total budget. Germany provided around 30 times more funding. The GAVI alliance, to which we will come momentarily, is even further down the list (30th place at just over $7 million). The next graph shows the leading contributors to the WHO’s COVID-19 response budget in 2021, the second year of the pandemic and the first of mass vaccination. The story is much the same. Germany is still far and away the top contributor, and its percentage share of the total budget is now even greater. Germany’s $386 million contribution represents nearly 40 percent of the effective budget. If we add together the German and EU contributions, we arrive at nearly $497 million, representing almost half of the total budget. And where is the Gates Foundation? Still at 18th place, now three places behind Guinea-Bissau! See below. The Gates Foundation’s effective contribution of $6 million represents barely 0.5 percent of the total budget! Germany’s contribution—$386 million to $6 million—is now no less than 64 times greater! The above funding figures can be consulted on the WHO website here. Note that the link lands on the current funding year (2022). You need to select the desired SPRP year in the upper left to see previous years. From the current year’s graph, you will see that Germany is on track to continue being the top funder of the COVID response budget, although the United States, whose contributions were previously relatively meager, has now risen to 2nd place. The Gates Foundation has pledged a grand total of $250,000. The German pledge of $352 million is literally over 100 times greater! But wait a moment. Careful observers will have noted the relatively prominent presence of GAVI, now in 5th place with an effective contribution of $67 million, among the leading contributors in 2021, and GAVI continues to be a major contributor in 2022. So, even if Germany is by far the top contributor and even if the Gates Foundation’s contribution is paltry, Gates involvement is still substantial: namely, via GAVI. The Springer/Politico “investigation” includes GAVI among Gates’s “n
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