Melinda Gates didn’t exactly say Black people ‘must’ be vaccinated for COVID-19

The claim: Melinda Gates says Black people must be vaccinated first for COVID-19 after health care workers.

Melinda Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says that after health care workers, Black people must be next in line for vaccination for COVID-19, according to a story on Live24.

Gates, in a Time magazine interview on the eve of global vaccine summit in early June, discussed how anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, while in custody of Minneapolis police fits into health equity, especially with development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The first people that need this vaccine are the 60 million health care workers around the world. They deserve to get it before anybody else. Then you start tiering,” 24Live quoted Gates as saying in the Time story, written by Jamie Ducharme.

A shift in wording

That quote matched the one in Time (though Live24 incorrectly identified the magazine as a newspaper). But then, instead of continuing the direct quote, the Live24 piece paraphrased Gates’ subsequent statement, writing, “Melinda went on to say that Black people in the U.S. must be vaccinated after more than 60 million health care workers around the world.”

The same headline was repeated by Health Nut News, but attributed to Time.

The Time interview did not quote Gates as saying Black people “must be” vaccinated after health workers. Asked who needs vaccines after health care workers, Gates told the magazine, “in the U.S., that would be Black people next, quite honestly, and many other people of color.”

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“They are having disproportionate effects from COVID-19. From there, people with underlying health conditions, and then people who are older. Those are the ones who all need it first. We also need to think about essential workers who are keeping our grocery stores open for us so we can buy food, or who are making sure that food moves through the warehouses.”

Live24 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the way it characterized Gates’ statement. Asked about the Live24 article, the Gates Foundation directed USA TODAY to the Time piece.

Efforts to secure vaccines

The Gates Foundation said at the June 4 summit it will donate $1.6 billion over five years to Gavi, a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against disease.

The foundation also said in an online new release that it will donate $100 million to a new Gavi effort to purchase COVID-19 vaccinations for lower-income countries so that “everyone who needs it can have access to it, starting with health care workers and other high-risk populations.”

Our rating: False headline

The headline, “Melinda Gates says Black people must be vaccinated first for COVID-19 after health care workers” is misleading. And it was repeated in the story. Gates did say, however, that Black people and “many other people of color” should be next in line for the vaccine after health care workers. 

Our fact-check sources:

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-284-8457. 

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Melinda Gates on COVID-19 vaccinations for Black people

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