Bill Gates has addressed an infamous quote of his about using vaccines to lower the global population during a live interview with New Zealand journalist and filmmaker David Farrier.
The Microsoft co-founder is the target of multiple conspiracy theories, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
The more outlandish claims about Gates are connected to the far-right QAnon cult, alleging he is part of a powerful cabal of Satanic cannibals operating a global child sex trafficking ring that conspired against Donald Trump during his presidency.
Other claims connect the funding Gates has provided for vaccine research and distribution with the idea he is a supervillain attempting to ultimately control and lower the Earth's population.
"The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent," Gates said at the time.
Former Newshub journalist Farrier questioned Gates about the quote that has "haunted" him during a recent live recording of his conspiracy theory podcast Armchaired & Dangerous, which he co-hosts with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman.
"All societies that are healthy - where children grow up and survive - are societies where there is not significant population growth," explained Gates.
"The place you have population growth is in very poor countries, where over 10 percent of the children are dying below the age of five. And amazingly, as you bring in vaccines or better nutrition - anything to improve the health - parents choose to have less children.
"In every country as you improve health, very quickly parents more than offset those extra lives, and therefore the population growth goes down. So today the only places with population growth are these very poor countries where we haven't done a good job protecting children."
Gates noted the 2010 TED Talk was about climate change and only briefly mentioned vaccines, which was relevant as it's generally believed that one of the major factors of Earth's carbon emissions being at an unsustainable level is population growth.
He also pointed out that better distribution of vaccines in poor countries will save lives and lower mortality rates, which appears to be the opposite of what his anti-vaxxer critics claim.
"I've made many other speeches where I explain how our foundation chose to get involved in vaccines, because I was shocked these very low cost shots that can stop pneumonia and diarrhoea were getting to the rich kids, who were not at risk of dying, and they were not getting to the kids in the poor countries who really were dying," said Gates.
"It seemed like such an insane thing that [my wife] Melinda and I decided 'OK, this will be a primary focus for the foundation', and that's gone very well. In fact when we got going, over 10 million children would die every year. And it's gone from 10 million down to five million."
Also during the show, Gates also praised Aotearoa's COVID-19 response, noting how it has resulted in a vastly lower death rate than most countries including the US.
"A few countries like New Zealand - they did enough diagnostic work and quarantine work before the numbers got big, and then really maintained a walled off approach, so their death rate per population is about a fiftieth of what we have had in the United States."