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Analysts are tracking false rumours about COVID-19 in hopes of curbing their spread. In the first few months of 2020, wild conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and the new coronavirus began sprouting online. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist who has funded efforts to control the virus with treatments, vaccines and technology, had himself created the virus, argued one theory. He had patented it, said another. He’d use vaccines to control people, declared a third. The false claims quietly proliferated among groups predisposed to spread the message — people opposed to vaccines, globalization or the privacy infringements enabled by technology. Then one went mainstream.
If President Trump sidelines the World Health Organization, experts foresee incoherence, inefficiency and resurgence of deadly diseases. Experts in health policy are contending with the real possibility that the United States will pull away from the World Health Organization (WHO), fracturing a relationship that began in the wake of the Second World War. They say that the repercussions could range from a resurgence of polio and malaria, to barriers in the flow of information on COVID-19. Scientific partnerships around the world would also be damaged, and the United States could lose influence over global health initiatives, including those to distribute drugs and vaccines for the new coronavirus as they become available, say researchers.

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