Bill Gates says he doesn't know where coronavirus conspiracy theories about him started

In an interview with CBS Evening News, the Microsoft co-founder also discusses at-home COVID-19 tests and when we can expect a vaccine.

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Bill Gates says there should be a widespread vaccine by the end of 2021.

CBS Evening News

In an interview with CBS Evening News that aired Wednesday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once again denied the coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory that's become the most widespread COVID-19 falsehood on social media. 

According to this false conspiracy theory, Gates is planning to use a future COVID-19 vaccine to implant microchips in billions of people in order to monitor their movements. And despite a total lack of evidence, it's gained believers, particularly among Fox News viewers and Republicans, a May survey found.

Gates, who directs his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund medical research and vaccine programs around the world, dismissed the false theory in a phone call with media in May, and again on Wednesday.

"There's no connection between any of these vaccines and any tracking type thing at all," Gates told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell. "I don't know where that came from."  (Editor's note: CBS Evening News and CNET are both owned by ViacomCBS.)

Gates said he doesn't know how the conspiracy theory started, but that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci are two of the most mentioned people in terms of coronavirus vaccine research. 

When it comes to fighting disinformation, "I think we just need to get the truth out there. We need to explain our values so that people understand why we're involved in this work and why we're willing to put hundreds or billions to accelerate the progress," Gates said in the interview. "It's a little unclear to me, but I hope it'll die down as people get the facts." 

Coronavirus testing and vaccines

In the interview, Gates also spoke about coronavirus testing. He said he expects some at-home, instant coronavirus tests to be approved in the next two to four months.

However, those at-home tests won't be as accurate as the PCR tests being done in laboratories, which are molecular. In the next few months, we need to increase our testing capacity and get people's results back within 24 hours as at-home tests roll out, he said. "The delay times we have today are completely unacceptable," Gates said. "It's making most of our tests pretty much worthless." 

Vaccine testing is underway, but it's likely we'll have better therapeutic interventions before we have a vaccine available, Gates said. 

"We have a lot of regrets, but we do have innovations in the pipeline that should reduce the death rate, and eventually, by the end of next year, get us out of this terrible situation," Gates said. "In 2021, there's a good chance this can get done."