Bill Gates did not call for 'death panels' for the sick at G20 summit

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Bill Gates did not speak of an imminent need for "death panels" at the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022 to "end the lives of sick and unwell people", as claimed in social media posts shared in various languages. The billionaire philanthropist did not attend the event. The claims in fact take comments Gates made during a 2010 interview out of context. The full interview shows Gates made no mention about a need to cull the population; he mentioned "death panels" as part of a conversation about what he described as the trade-off between high medical costs and cuts in other sectors.

"Bill Gates Tells G20 World Leaders That ‘Death Panels’ Will Soon Be Required", reads bold text on what appears to be a screenshot of an article shared on Instagram here on November 18, 2022.

The screenshot includes a picture of the American billionaire.

The remainder of the article visible in the screenshot reads: "Unelected world health czar Bill Gates has used his appearance at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia to raise a discussion about 'death panels'.

"According to Gates, death panels will be necessary in the near future in order to end the lives of sick and unwell people due to 'very very high medical costs'."

A screenshot of the false post, captured on January 27, 2023

Gates is a frequent target of misinformation and AFP has previously debunked claims that the billionaire called for "depopulation" here, here and here.

The false claim about Gates promoting the use of "death panels" to world leaders was also shared in similar Facebook posts and articles in English here and here, in Hungarian here and here, as well as in Finnish and Czech.

But Gates did not attend the G20 summit, and his remark about "death panels" was taken out of context from a 2010 interview.

Gates in Kenya, not at G20

A spokesperson for Gates' charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told AFP in an email on December 2, 2022: "We confirm that Bill Gates did not attend the G20 meeting."

The foundation also stated the claim that Gates had called for death panels was "false".

The G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, took place on November 15 and 16, 2022. Neither the summit’s website nor any news reports from the summit mention Gates addressing members.

According to Kenyan newspaper The Standard, Gates arrived in Kenya on November 15 for a two-day trip.

The visit was also reported by Reuters, which said Gates met Kenyan President William Ruto on November 16.

2010 interview

A search of the headline used in the false posts led to an article on the website News Punch, which has previously shared false claims debunked by AFP here and here.

The same headline is also used for a video shared on Rumble, which contains a clip of Gates talking about healthcare and education in the United States.

A "Fora.tv" logo can be seen in the video's upper right-hand corner, and a video containing the excerpt was posted on the Fora.tv YouTube channel here on September 11, 2020.

Text at the six-second mark of the video states it was filmed on July 8, 2010 during the Aspen Ideas Festival in the US state of Colorado.

A screenshot of the Fora.tv YouTube video, captured on January 30, 2023

A full version of the interview is available on C-SPAN, with the video description also saying the talk took place during the festival on July 8, 2010.

The C-SPAN footage shows Gates being interviewed by the then-CEO of the Aspen Institute, Walter Isaacson.

At the 29:12 mark, Isaacson asks Gates whether the proportion of GDP that goes into healthcare is over-allocated.

In response, Gates mentions that the rising cost of healthcare "squeezes out everything else" -- giving the example of rising tuition costs at university.

He says there is a “lack of willingness” to discuss whether it is worth laying off ten teachers to spend a million dollars on a terminally ill patient's last three months of life.

"But that's called the 'death panel', and you're not supposed to have that discussion," he says.

This is the only time that Gates mentions a "death panel" in the interview, and he does not say that such panels will "soon be required" to end the lives of "sick and unwell people".

According to Political Dictionary, "death panel" was a term coined by the former governor of the US state of Alaska Sarah Palin in a Facebook post in 2009 when she criticised the US Affordable Care Act -- sometimes known as "Obamacare".

She baselessly claimed that government boards would decide whether people were worthy of care based on their level of productivity in society. American fact-checking website PolitiFact called it the "lie of the year" in December 2009.

As of January 30, 2023, AFP has not found any later comments about "death panels" attributed to Gates.

BILL GATES