These patents are not for the new coronavirus or its vaccine

19 May 2020
What was claimed

US patent 2006257852 is for the new coronavirus.

Our verdict

It is not. It is an abandoned patent from 2006 for chemical mixtures related to the SARS virus, which is another type of coronavirus.

What was claimed

European patent 3172319B1 is a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

Our verdict

It is not. The patent relates to a vaccine for a virus which infects birds, which is another type of coronavirus.

What was claimed

European patent 3172319B1 is owned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Our verdict

It is not. The patent is owned by the UK-based Pirbright Institute, which receives some of its funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

A post shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims the new coronavirus is patented, and that there is already a vaccine patented and owned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The implication of the post seems to be that the new coronavirus and a vaccine were manufactured before the outbreak.

These claims, and the implication of the post, are wrong. We’ve seen no credible evidence that Covid-19 was man-made.

The US patent mentioned in the post—US2006257852—has nothing to do with the new coronavirus outbreak.

It’s a patent issued in 2006 for a range of approaches to detecting, treating and preventing SARS (the severe acute respiratory syndrome of which there were outbreaks between 2002 and 2004), according to the US National Library of Medicine. It has been abandoned, so isn’t currently active.

As we’ve written about before, “coronavirus” is a broad category of viruses which infect both humans and animals, which includes the original SARS virus, some viruses that cause conditions like the common cold, as well as the virus (technically known as SARS-CoV-2) causing the current pandemic. 

The post goes on to mention a European patent—EP3172319B1—which it claims is for a vaccine for the new coronavirus. This patent is still active.

Again, this is not related to the new coronavirus outbreak. It’s for a vaccine for a virus which infects birds, which is another type of coronavirus. Speaking to journalists in France, the proprietor of the patent said:

“The European patent EP3172319B1 was not filed in relation to novel virus SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Institute was granted this patent in 2018 for a new approach to vaccine development in order to make improved infectious bronchitis virus vaccines for poultry. There are no plans for its use in human coronavirus vaccine development.”

The Facebook post goes on to claim that the owner of this patent is a corporation owned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The owner is the Pirbright Institute, based near Woking. As we’ve fact checked recently, it receives some funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but isn’t owned by them and receives funding from a range of other sources.

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 the patents mentioned do not relate to the new coronavirus and the owner of the vaccine patent is not owned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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