Did billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates help fund a patent for the Wuhan coronavirus? No, that's not true: The Pirbright Institute addressed the conspiracy theories and said the patents involve infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) only, and the Gates Foundation did not fund that work.
The claim originated from an article (archived here) published by Natural News on January 29, 2020, under the title "Eugenicist Bill Gates co-hosted a "high-level pandemic exercise" back in October, just in time for the patented coronavirus he helped fund to be unleashed." It opened:
(Natural News) Not long before Chinese coronavirus started making global headlines, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, held a high-level pandemic exercise called "Event 201" that seems to have been a predictive blueprint for what's now transpiring with the coronavirus outbreak.
On October 18, 2019, representatives from each of the aforementioned groups descended on New York City to discuss how they would respond to "a severe pandemic" much like the one we're now being told is spreading across China and into the West.
Users on social media saw this:
Lead Stories has previously debunked the claim made in the headline and at the top of the Nature News article that a "high-level exercise" predicted the current coronavirus. Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which organized the event, issued a statement denying any predictions were made at what it called a "tabletop exercise." It said the event was about how to marshal cooperation among businesses, governments, and key international institutions in the event of a global pandemic.
The other claim - that the Pirbright Institute owns a patent on coronavirus for vaccine creation purposes - has also been debunked. Nature News linked to a patent that it claims is for the creation of a vaccine for coronavirus. The article said:
Mainstream reporting is admitting that coronavirus is constantly changing like some kind of self-replicating bioweapon, which is all too convenient considering that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Pirbright Institute owns a patent on coronavirus for vaccine creation purposes.
A spokeswoman for Pirbright told BuzzFeed News that this specific patent does not involve a strain affecting humans, and the Gates Foundation did not fund this work:
The patented work cited in the conspiracy theories involved infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) only, and we made four changes in the gene responsible for replicating the virus's genetic material. This has weakened the virus so it is no longer able to cause disease and has potential to be used as a vaccine, but has not yet been developed. The patented work was completed in 2015 and is not funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to The Independent, Pirbright's patent is for a different strain of coronavirus:
There is a patent from Pirbright but it is for a different type of coronavirus, the avian infectious bronchitis virus, that infects poultry and the institute does not currently work with strains of coronavirus that affect humans.
In 2019, Pirbright announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would fund the development of a Livestock Antibody Hub. The $5.5 million grant was aimed at improving animal and human health, as well as "ensuring the security of our food supply."
The Nature News article also claimed that Bill Gates had admitted vaccines are "a means of reducing the world's population by 10 to 15 percent." However, Snopes has previously concluded this claim was false.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes naturalnews.com as:
A network of sites promoting both medical and non-medical conspiracy theories, particularly the false claim that vaccines are linked to autism.
According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
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