Fact Check: 'Mosquito Factory' In Medellín, Columbia, NOT Built By Bill Gates Nor Meant To Vaccinate All People

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: 'Mosquito Factory' In Medellín, Columbia, NOT Built By Bill Gates Nor Meant To Vaccinate All People Fights Disease

Did Bill Gates build a mosquito factory in Medellín, Columbia, that will help him vaccinate the entire population? No, that's not true: The "factory" is one of the many mosquito-breeding facilities that the World Mosquito Program has set up worldwide to combat mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya.

The claim appeared in several videos on TikTok such as this one (archived here), published on June 7, 2023. The graphic overlay on the video, in Romanian, read:

Am construit la Meddelin în Columbia, o fabrică de țânțari, care mă va ajuta să vaccinez toată populația globului. Nimeni să nu scape!

The English (translated by Lead Stories staff) read:

I built in Medellin in Columbia, a mosquito factory that will help me vaccinate the population of the entire globe. No one should be spared!

Text at the bottom of the graphic was "DeBill Gates," wordplay on "debil," meaning "mentally ill" in Romanian.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-07-21 at 11.34.04.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Jul 21 08:30:06 2023 UTC)

According to their official website, the World Mosquito Program is a not-for-profit group of companies, owned by the Monash University in Australia, that uses the Wolbachia method to help combat large-scale outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease in 13 countries. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been among its financial partners since 2004, and philanthropist Bill Gates has promoted and explained its work on his blog.

The World Mosquito Program facilities breed regular Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not genetically modified, as sometimes claimed in other clips on social media) and infect them with the Wolbachia bacteria, which blocks them from transmitting dengue and other viruses to humans. By releasing them to reproduce with wild mosquitoes, they spread Wolbachia, reducing virus transmission and protecting millions of people from illnesses.

In June 2021, the New England Journal of Medicine published the peer-reviewed results of a trial that show that Wolbachia deployments reduced dengue incidence by 77 percent and hospitalizations by 86 percent, within a 26 square kilometer (10 square mile) area of Yogyakarta City, Indonesia.

Breeding these mosquitoes has no connection to vaccination, as a search of Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites using the terms World Mosquito Program and vaccination shows.

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