The shift in power from governments “overwhelmed” by Covid-19 to a group of four non-governmental organisations: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gavi; the Wellcome Trust; and CEPI is astounding and extremely concerning.
Throughout the first three months of the pandemic, the four organisations jumped ahead of the governments in charting the global nature of the response. The Gates Foundation and Wellcome began to invest and announce grants to companies working to produce tests and treatments for Covid. Beyond beginning to grant millions of dollars, CEPI and the other organisations set up international consortiums to shapeshift the world’s initial response to the pandemic through the World Health Organisation (“WHO”).
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An investigation by Politico and Welt
The WHO was crucial to the groups’ rise to power. Much of the groups’ clout with the WHO stems simply from money. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the Gates Foundation, Gavi, and the Wellcome Trust have donated collectively more than $1.4 billion to the WHO.
The four organisations collectively have spent just under $10 billion since January 2020 combating Covid, the investigation revealed. Their financial might allowed them to gain access to some of the highest levels of government in the US and Europe.
The images below published by Politico summarise how money and influence shaped the world’s Covid plan.
Leaders of the Gates Foundation, Gavi, CEPI and Wellcome deployed their lobbying and advocacy networks and used their political connections to push the US and European officials to commit billions of dollars to Covid programs the organisations helped envision and lead.
They even helped organise and fund the first truly international meeting at the WHO to lay the groundwork for the world’s response to the virus. By the end of the global conference in the second week of February 2020, attendees had agreed on a comprehensive roadmap for the world’s response to Covid.
The extent of their access to global decision-makers attests to their central role in helping establish the global Covid response: The groups briefed top officials in the European Commission about investments in tests, treatments, and “vaccines” and the importance of sharing those products with the rest of the world.
In the UK, the organisations usually met several times a month with ministers to discuss topics such as Covid testing, clinical trials and manufacturing capacity. Some of those meetings included the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates – his former wife – spoke directly to then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the distribution of Covid “vaccines,” according to German government documents obtained by Politico and Welt.
Meanwhile, in the US, leaders of the organisations were also in contact with senior US health officials. Emails obtained by Republicans on Capitol Hill illustrate the extent to which Jeremy Farrar – the director of Wellcome and who until October of last year, led one of the WHO’s scientific advisory groups – was in touch with officials in some of the highest levels of the US government on a sensitive health and national security issue. The emails, released this year, show Farrar in the early weeks of the pandemic discussing the possibility of Covid having leaked from a lab in China with top US health officials including Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.
Top Trump officials also said they spoke often with Bill Gates and his Foundation’s staff about how to fast-track the development of medical countermeasures, including “vaccines,” and how to distribute them to developing countries. These meetings would grow in number and intensity as the pandemic unravelled. During the Biden administration, officials met with members of the four organisations every week, according to two current and one former senior US officials. The US government is also on Gavi’s board and met with the organisation often to discuss internal matters.
The fact that crucial decisions were being refracted through American billionaires and the massive network they’d established raised concerns among some officials as well as grassroots activists on the outside.
“These big men of global health and how they … captured the agenda and managed to influence what people are thinking around pandemic preparedness and response – I think that’s really important [to consider],” Sophie Harman, professor of international politics at Queen Mary University of London, said. “[There’s] a revolving door of where these people are educated, where these people have worked, how they get the jobs that they’re in – it’s all a really close network.”
The Gates Foundation’s clout and that of its allies wasn’t merely a function of being the only game in town; it was also the product of concerted lobbying and advocacy work.
Over the last two years, Gavi and CEPI have spent at least $1.3 million on lobbying aimed at obtaining the US and European cash to fund their own enterprises and the causes they supported, according to lobbying records. Wellcome also lobbied in Europe – spending at least $1.1 million – to gain political support for its programs.
In the EU and the UK, from 2020 to early 2022 there were over 100 meetings related to Covid or pandemic preparedness between officials of the four organisations and senior Commission or UK officials, according to lobbying records. Leaders of the organisations attended some of the meetings, as did the UK prime minister and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. In Germany, CEPI and Gavi sent numerous letters to the German chancellor’s office over two years to elicit more funding for their respective organisations.
Since 2020, CEPI and Gavi have raised billions of dollars as a result of their lobbying. Between 2020 and 2021, the European Commission gave CEPI over $100 million, while the UK contributed more than $330 million, Germany paid over $430 million and the US gave $8 million. In the case of Gavi, from 2021 to 2025, the US has pledged over $4.8 billion, the UK has allocated over $2.6 billion, Germany has promised over $2 billion and the European Commission over $1 billion.
The above is a brief overview of Chapter 1 of the Politico/Welt investigation titled. ‘How Bill Gates and partners used their clout to control the global Covid response – with little oversight’.
About the Politico/Welt Investigation
The seven-month investigation was carried out by Politico journalists based in the US and Europe and the German newspaper Welt. It details the shift in power from governments overwhelmed by Covid-19 to a group of four non-governmental organisations. The four organisations had worked together in the past, and three of them shared a common history:
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the world.
- Gavi, the global vaccine organisation that Gates helped to found to inoculate people in low-income nations.
- The Wellcome Trust, a British research foundation with a multibillion-dollar endowment that had worked with the Gates Foundation in previous years.
- The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (“CEPI”), the international vaccine research and development group that Gates and Wellcome both helped to create in 2017.
While dozens of global health organisations participated in the world’s response to Covid, the Politico and Welt investigation focused on these four organisations because of their connections to one another – both Gavi and CEPI received seed funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – and because they together played a critical role in advising governments and the WHO.
The investigation, which relied on more than four dozen interviews with US and European officials and global health specialists, charted the step-by-step journey through which much of the international response to the Covid pandemic passed from governments to a privately overseen global constituency of non-governmental experts. It also detailed the significant financial and political connections that enabled them to achieve such clout at the highest levels of the US government, the European Commission and the WHO.
The officials who spoke to Politico and Welt hail from the top tiers of the governments in the US and Europe, including in the health agencies. They were granted anonymity to speak candidly about how their respective administrations approached the international response to Covid and what missteps occurred during the course of their tenure. Many of them dealt directly with representatives of the four global health agencies, some daily.
Politico and Welt examined meeting minutes as well as thousands of pages of financial disclosures and tax documents. It is one of the first comprehensive accountings of expenditures by global health organisations on the global fight against the pandemic.
You can read the full investigation HERE.
A word of warning: The investigation is sympathetic to the view that there was a pandemic. The authors imply throughout that there was a global coronavirus pandemic that required an urgent response – which could be a consequence of the sources they used.
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