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Is the Shine Starting to Come Off Bill Gates’s Halo?

The billionaire’s role in perpetuating vaccine apartheid in the name of protecting intellectual property rights has begun to draw criticism.

The announcement earlier this week of Bill and Melinda Gates’s divorce was a bombshell headline, but it shouldn’t distract us from an even more interesting development in the news media in recent weeks. Bill Gates, long heralded as a global hero in the pandemic response, is becoming an increasingly popular target of criticism for his role in the unfolding vaccine apartheid around the world.

News outlets from Salon to the Observer to The New Republic have taken aim at Gates’s efforts to defend Big Pharma’s monopoly controls over Covid vaccines—even in the face of growing humanitarian calls to suspend patents and to compel these companies to share the recipes and technological know-how needed to expand vaccine production and immunize the poor.

The reporting has highlighted the former Microsoft CEO’s hard-wired ideological commitment to patents, intellectual property, and the private sector, but may have understated the full scope of the Gates Foundation’s interests in this debate—like the sprawling array of intellectual property the charity has acquired access to through its grants and investments. Or the fact that the foundation co-owns a vaccine company.

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