GQ India

THE FINAL FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

For Ali Khalifa, it’s like having the “mark of the beast”. The 41-year-old Algerian is not warning against worship of the antichrist, fretting over biblical sea monsters, or debating the meaning of the number 666. He suggests that the modern-day sign of the devil may be both very real, and far unlike any described in the Book of Revelation. These days, it’s administered via needle by doctors and aid workers – the foot soldiers, as some believe, of an evil global elite.

And one man stands out in this shadowy, sinister group, the existence of which is entirely unsubstantiated: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Khalifa is one of a global band of anti-vaccine advocates, whose voices have grown louder, yet arguably no more rational, in the wake of the corona pandemic. Like many campaigners in the West, where the movement is far more prominent, Khalifa is “100 per cent against vaccines” – despite their role, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in saving as many as 3 million lives a year. Khalifa also believes that the coronavirus cannot be spread from person to person, and thinks Gates wants to use a Covid-19 vaccine programme as a vehicle for implanting tiny tracking devices in people in order to gain control over them. The “mark of the beast” might actually be a microchip.

Of course, such views are at odds with accepted wisdom that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent diseases, and that Covid-19 is transmitted through saliva or discharges from the noses of infected people. The microchip claim has been widely debunked and, along with other disinformation campaigns, dismissed by Gates as “stupid”.

But Khalifa – who, along with a Saudi friend, makes videos on such topics for the 1,50,000 subscribers to their Arabic YouTube channel “Reality Today” – rejects the idea that he is a conspiracy theorist.

“We don’t have any evidence that vaccines really protect us from infectious diseases,” he claims, dismissing as “untrue” figures that show a drastic reduction in the number of people contracting or dying from infectious diseases following the introduction of vaccines. Rather, he argues that we should be focusing on food and nutrition, and believes that the microorganisms causing diseases are only harmful if we allow them

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