Online claims that the coronavirus was patented by a British firm funded by Bill Gates in 2018 with a vaccine also created so it could be sold for vast sums have been rubbished by experts.
A post by netizen ‘Jordan Sather’ claimed that “The new fad disease called the “coronavirus” is sweeping headlines. Funny enough, there was a patent for the coronavirus was filed in 2015 and granted in 2018. (sic)”
The netizen added: “This assignee of this patent was the government funded Pirbright Institute out of the UK. And would you look at that, some their major funders as the Worlds Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (sic)”
However, the link the netizen provided is related to a different virus in the coronavirus family. Indeed, coronavirus is actually an umbrella term that applies to a whole group of viruses.
The coronavirus group are viruses which usually cause respiratory illnesses in humans along with a variety of other illnesses in animals, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
The netizen’s link is actually a patent for a mutated form of avian infectious bronchitis virus, or IBV, which can affect poultry but not humans. The mutations created by the institute were made to weaken the virus to allow it to be used as a vaccine for chickens.
The Pirbright Institute says on their website “we aim to prevent and control viral diseases of livestock and those that spread from animals to people”.
Matthew Frieman, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Maryland, told factcheck.org that the patent had nothing “to do with the new 2019-nCoV virus”.
No vaccine for the 2019-nCoV virus has been found while there have been 4,635 confirmed cases and 106 deaths from it so far at the time of writing. The outbreak began in the city of Wuhan in the central Chinese province of Hubei which remains the centre of the outbreak.
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