Coronavirus Patented? Why Social Media Posts Are Misleading

Coronavirus patent circulating on social media is not of the new strain of viruses seen in China

Social media posts featuring a screenshot of a patent owned by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, England for the Coronavirus are misleading as the recent outbreak in China's Wuhan district is caused by a novel virus whose origins have not yet been identified. The patent is for different and older strains of Coronavirus and not the current 2019-novel Coronavirus active in China.

V.A Shiva Ayyadurai, a Republican standing for the US Senate 2020 who was embroiled in controversy in the past for his remarks on Email, posted a picture of a patent suggesting that the Coronavirus already has a patent.

Replies to his post suggest many Facebook users were linking the patent to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak in China. Many anti-vaxxing groups on Facebook have posted this patent with claims of it being a US conspiracy.

On searching for the terms 'Coronavirus' and 'patent' on Twitter, a new set of claims emerged with users calling the Coronavirus a man-made virus, a bio-weapon, to even accusing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has earlier worked with the Pilbright Institute.

Fact Check

The circulating patent was filed by the Pirbright University in 2015 for different and older strains of Coronavirus and not the current 2019-novel Coronavirus.

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that look similar to each other but are genetically different. These viruses look like crowns but their genetic sequence is a little different from each other. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are other types of Coronaviruses.

These viruses move from an animal host to humans and cannot be biologically created.

Also Read :Coronavirus In China: All You Need To Know

Twitter users have been sharing the Google and the Justia patent links without reading the complete background of the patent. The background section specifies that this patent is for reducing the virality of one specific type of avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) that causes infectious bronchitis (IB). Vaccines are created from attenuated viruses. Viruses whose virality is reduced and are less potent are called attenuated viruses. These viruses assist in creating an immune response to the acting virus and do not spread diseases.

Researchers also know the host of this specific IBV virus. The virus is called Avian IBV as it is transmitted from fowls, pheasants, and turkeys.

The current patent for IBV ends in 2020. Pirbright Institute which researched and patented the IBV, was founded in 1987. The institute works to control the spread of infectious diseases that originate in animals.

Scientists have still not identified the source of the Coronavirus in China. Some studies suggest that since the virus originated and emerged from the seafood market in Wuhan, the host could be snakes. On the other hand, the genomic sequence and the RNA proteins of the new virus are very similar to those found in bats. Bats are known to be hosts to a wide range of viruses ranging from Nipah to influenza. Scientists are still contemplating and speculating the origin of the virus.

This novel virus, thus, is not man made or a bioweapon.

The current outbreak of Coronavirus in China has claimed 41 lives in China and infected over 1000 people. The virus has spread to Australia, Hong Kong, France, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, The USA.

Also Read: Coronavirus In China: India On Alert

Updated On: 2020-03-13T09:45:34+05:30
Claim Review :   The Coronavirus is patented by the US
Claimed By :  Social Media
Fact Check :  Misleading
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