As the prevalence of alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), a tick-borne ailment causing an allergic response to red meat, experiences a significant upsurge, suspicions arise regarding a potential link to research supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since its first reported case in Virginia in 2008, AGS has escalated alarmingly in recent years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that approximately 450,000 individuals in the U.S. have tested positive for alpha-gal since 2010. Notably, 2021 witnessed a staggering 41.3% spike in positive AGS test results compared to 2017. During that year, testing for alpha-gal peaked at 66,106 individuals.
Remarkably, the very same year saw the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation award a substantial grant of $1,469,352 to research focused on the Rhipicephalus microplus ("Asian blue") tick. This tick species is known to trigger AGS, as validated by a publication in the ImmunoTargets and Therapy journal housed within the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Oxitec Ltd., a biotech firm, was the recipient of this grant. Their project involved genetically modifying male ticks to carry a "self-limiting gene," with the intention of reducing tick populations. These modified ticks were released to mate with wild females in areas with high infestations. The project's primary goal was to address the global pest issue affecting cattle, a crucial source of red meat.
In June 2023, after Oxitec reported promising results from their tick experiment, the Gates Foundation provided an additional $4.8 million in funding.
However, the intertwining of Gates's interests with the surge in AGS cases raises eyebrows. Gates's affiliations with pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer Inc., which produces antibiotics used to treat tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, have drawn attention. Furthermore, his foundation granted over $1 million to Ceres Nanosciences, a diagnostics company specializing in Lyme disease detection.
In the realm of food, Gates's substantial investments in plant-based and lab-grown meat companies are well-known. He has backed enterprises like Upside Foods, Good Meat, Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods, several of which have secured U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for meat substitute production and sale.
While there's no definitive proof linking Gates's tick research funding to the AGS surge, the timing and complexity of his involvements have ignited demands for greater transparency and accountability.
This is not the first instance where Gates's involvement in disease research has sparked controversy. A similar narrative unfolded in the realm of malaria research, which had been virtually eradicated in the U.S. for decades.
Malaria had not been detected in the U.S. since 2003. However, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation redirected its focus to malaria research in 2007, injecting substantial funds into the cause. Gates Foundation funding was pivotal in the development of Krintafel (tafenoquine), a new treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria launched in 2018, the first such treatment in over six decades.
The Gates Foundation's continued investments in malaria research further solidified its role in the field. Simultaneously, Gates-backed projects like the Injectable Artesunate Assessment Report and funding for genetically engineered mosquitoes raised concerns about ethical implications and public health consequences.
As these patterns of events unfold in both AGS and malaria research, questions arise about the synchronicity between Gates Foundation funding and disease outbreaks. While causation isn't established, the correlation underscores the need for comprehensive investigations and heightened transparency. Open disclosure of these affiliations is crucial to address public apprehensions and uphold ethical standards in disease prevention and treatment strategies.