Bill and Melinda Gates have been targeted by anti-vaxxers for long time for his work on vaccination. Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has donated funds to GAVI foundation, an organisation in forefront of making vaccination available to countries who can't afford it for its population.
In light of this, posts were shared on social media platforms with the claim that their foundation had tested a polio vaccine in India that left at least 490,000 children paralyzed.
"Bill Gates foundation tested a polio vax in India between 2000 & 2017 and paralysed 496,000 children," reads one such post dated April 13, 2020.
The post was shared over 17,000 times.
Similar posts which claimed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was asked to leave India also circulated in April and May on Facebook here, here and here.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had tested polio vaccine in India between 2000 & 2017 and had paralysed 496,000 children.
The claim is misleading.
According to a report by PolitiFact, the claim can be traced back to an Instagram post by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of former US president John F. Kennedy and a leader of the World Mercury Project on April 7. World Mercury Project, a group headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a California-based organization has been vocal against vaccines. Further, they are one of the biggest sources of anti-vaccine advertisements on Facebook.
"Indian doctors blame the Gates campaign for a devastating vaccine-strain polio epidemic that paralyzed 496,000 children between 2000 and 2017," Kennedy wrote.
In an email correspondence with Politifact, the Gates Foundation has debunked the claims.
According to a report by WHO, India was officially declared polio-free in 2014. Further, no evidence could be found which proved that almost half a million Indian children were given polio or suffered from paralysis due to vaccine-derived polioviruses.
"Over the past 10 years, more than 10 billion doses of Oral poliovirus vaccines (OPV) have been administered to over 2.5 billion children worldwide, preventing more than 10 million polio cases during that period," reads another report by WHO.
However, the World Health Organization does mention that it is possible to contract polio from vaccines but it is extremely rare.
According to the agency 1 in 2.7 million oral doses results in vaccine-associated paralytic polio.
Although there have been reports of contaminated vaccine even after the eradication of polio in India. The data from the WHO show that there were 17 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus cases recorded in India between 2000 and 2017.
The data shows that cases were recorded in India only in 2009 and 2010, as seen in the screenshots below, in which cVDPV (circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus).
Therefore it can be ascertained that the claims made in the viral posts are false.