Despite being one of the richest men on earth, Bill Gates is quite a showman. After all, do you reckon anyone can go up on stage and release a horde of mosquitoes to just prove a point? And this isn’t the only time! The founder of Microsoft is known for releasing insects at extremely inopportune moments while giving a lecture. In 2009, he explained that he had released mosquitos to properly instill the fear of malaria in his listeners. Seems a tad bit extra, doesn’t it? He also gave the reasoning that swatting away mosquitos is an exercise that the rich should also experience. While this caused quite a commotion throughout, he calmly stated that the mosquitos weren’t infected. Well, speak of small mercies, shall we?
Why did Bill Gates Release Mosquitos? To Educate People About Malaria.
Bill Gates wanted to showcase the fact that malaria killed more people than any pandemic ever would. And as is evident from countless media reports, this disease is rampant in Africa, where it kills 2 people every minute. The man further warned that Anopheles mosquitos- the breed that carries malaria could trigger a mass virus outbreak. And he considers it to be worse than both SARS and Ebola. Interestingly, one reason why mosquitos could be venturing into places unknown would be climate change. Since our planet has been gradually getting hotter by the day, these fiends are capable of scattering to faraway places to spread the disease. According to a report, mosquitos are the leading cause of death in the world- as they kill 830,000 people every year.
This has resulted in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spending years researching and eradicating malaria. Back in 2010, the Foundation had donated close to 4.6 million points to the Oxitec firm. This firm had been developing concepts and designs for self-destructing mosquitos. The firm had been infecting female mosquitos- the ones that lead to malaria- with a gene that would prevent their offspring from surviving outside.
When he released a swarm of mosquitos to educate people about Malaria, Bill Gates was also teaching a lesson. He wanted to point out that just because a particular section of the demographic wasn’t affected by mosquitos- that shouldn’t be a deterrent for them to get involved. Back in 2009, Bill Gates noted that hair loss drugs had received more funding- simply because they afflicted people who were rich. Gates managed to capture the imagination of the audience through visual air, direct interaction, and as we have already noted- a practical demonstration.
Read: Bill Gates Attempts to Explain Why He Bought More Farmland Than Anyone Else in America
Mosquitos to Fireflies- Gates Loves a Good Insect Demonstration
In 2010, he was present for another demonstration. But this time, he came prepared with fireflies. Speaking on the future of energy, he released fireflies to prove that it was nothing but a gimmicky solution- a farce. This resulted in him getting a standing ovation from the crowd who were simply mesmerized. Considering the effort he and his foundation have been putting towards eradicating malaria, it stands to reason that he would have citations to support his cause. In 2016, Gates mentioned, “The malaria death rate in sub-Saharan Africa has declined by a stunning 57% since 2000.”
In his blog post, he continued, “With almost 500,000 children still dying of malaria every year, we obviously have a long way to go. But cutting the death rate by more than half is a miracle. It’s one of the greatest success stories in the history of global health.” Currently, the Foundation has been waging a way against the dreaded- and usually untreatable disease- Alzheimer’s. In 2017, he announced that the Foundation would be investing around $100 million in researching the cause of the disease. It was understood that the cause would lead to the treatment.
Bill Gates’ antics at the 2009 TedTalk regarding malaria definitely gained him fans among the social media regulars. One user commented, “I love how everyone is clapping and laughing while Bill releases mosquitos into the crowd.” To this, someone responded, “They’re not clapping- they’re trying to kill the mosquitos.” The clip of his releasing mosquitos gained mass popularity after it was released during the time of Covid. This also led to several speculating that it was fortunate that the man wasn’t speaking about the coronavirus. For, he would have surely released bats in the crowd to justify his point.
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