There is no patent for the Wuhan coronavirus

30 January 2020
What was claimed

Jacob Rothschild owns a patent to coronavirus.

Our verdict

Incorrect. There is no patent to the new coronavirus discovered recently in Wuhan.

A post on Facebook implies, incorrectly, that Jacob Rothschild owns one of the patents for “the Coronavirus.” 

Coronavirus is not a single virus but a family of viruses which includes the common cold, SARS (the severe acute respiratory syndrome, of which there were outbreaks in 2002 and 2004) and this new coronavirus identified in people in Wuhan.

There are no patents for this new coronavirus.

A patent application from 2015 does exist for a different type of coronavirus and is referred to by users in the comments to the post.

This patent refers to a “live attenuated” version of the avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). This is essentially a weakened version of the virus, patented with the aim of eventually developing it into a vaccine against the disease for birds and other animals.

This patent is held by the UK-based Pirbright Institute, researchers of viral diseases in livestock.

The Pirbright Institute is not owned by Jacob Rothschild. We can find no evidence of any link between Mr Rothschild and the Institute.

The Institute says that in 2018/19 it received £12.6 million from public funds through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and £35 million from grants and commercial activity.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there is no patent for the coronavirus found in Wuhan and so it’s incorrect to say that Jacob Rothschild owns the patent.

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