Since the start of the crisis, AFP Fact Check has debunked dozens of anti-Gates rumours circulating on platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in languages including English, French, Spanish, Polish and Czech.

A number of accusations, including posts claiming that the FBI arrested Gates for biological terrorism or that he supports a Western plot to poison Africans, share a common thread.

They accuse the tycoon of exploiting the crisis, whether it is to “control people” or make money from selling vaccines…

Gates’ vocal criticism of US President Donald Trump and support for vaccine development made him “the perfect scapegoat for a crisis that emerges on the intersection of technology and (medical) science,” Kinga Polynczuk-Alenius, a social sciences researcher at Finland’s University of Helsinki, wrote in a university blog post.