Microsoft founder Bill Gates lauded New Zealand's covid-19 response in a podcast about being stuck in the middle of conspiracy theory hell.

“What we have seen is that 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,” he said.

Gates made a surprise appearance on Armchaired and Dangerous – a podcast by Dax Shepard, Monica Padman and NZ journalist David Farrier.

“It’s strange having a man worth US$130.7 billion (NZ$196.8b) walk into your green room swigging a can of Coke, and then sit across from you acknowledging how strange that wealth is and how it plays into people’s deep suspicions of him,” said Farrier.

The conversation touched on the reasons why Gates became “Conspiracy’s #1 Bad Guy”, including a Ted Talk from 2010 where he reportedly said if we can get people vaccinated, we can decrease the population.

According to Gates, “it’s a counterintuitive thing, which is all societies that are healthy – where children grow up and survive — are societies where there is not significant population growth”.

Another Ted Talk in 2015 added fuel to the fire as Gates said "we are not ready for the next pandemic” and talked in broad terms about what eventually showed up.

“That creates this association that maybe I predicted it and maybe I was feeling bad that my prediction was wrong and I had to do something about it.”

There was also a coronavirus simulation run by Johns Hopkins just ahead of the outbreak in Wuhan. John Hopkins was partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Gates pointed to people’s need for a simple solution “and the simplest solution to any problem is there is a bad guy behind the curtain doing this, and if we just found him out and got rid of him everything would be okay”.

Gates, however, said he was surprised to be fingered. 

“The idea that Dr (Anthony Stephen) Fauci got picked for that sort of behind the curtain role, and I got picked for it … I would not have suspected it.”

However, he said, “you know, I am involved in vaccines … I have more money than makes sense for someone to have, and you can start feeling that’s a little bit weird”.

The podcast aired as NZ is grappling with scores of protestors who are refusing to leave the parliament grounds in Wellington calling for an end to vaccination mandates. According to Radio NZ, there were about 3,000 people present over the weekend, despite heavy rainfall.