The coronavirus is “new” yet it was lab-created and patented in 2015″

SOURCE: , , , , 23 Jan. 2020  

Inaccurate: The post references the Wuhan coronavirus, but the patent filed is clearly stated to be for the SARS coronavirus, which caused the 2003 outbreak. Neither the SARS nor Wuhan coronavirus is lab-created; evidence points to an animal reservoir as the source of infection. Finally, no vaccine is available for the Wuhan coronavirus, contrary to the post’s claim.
The coronavirus patent referred to in the post is for the SARS coronavirus, not the Wuhan coronavirus. In the case of both viruses, initial cases were detected in China and evidence points to an animal reservoir as the source of infection; neither viruses were created in the lab.
« [The coronavirus is] “new” yet it was lab-created and patented in 2015 (in development since ‘03) […] The patent also tells us the CDC helped make this! »
This claim, which was published in late Jan. 2020, went viral on Facebook within a day, and spawned several copycat posts on Facebook, receiving a total of more than 86,000 views. It states that “[The coronavirus is] “new” yet it was lab-created and patented in 2015”. Similar claims have also been made on Twitter. The rapid spread of this claim on social media has been attributed to QAnon and anti-vaccine groups.“Coronavirus” is not a single disease or virus, as the post suggests. It is the name of a family of viruses, some of which are known to cause severe respiratory illnesses (such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV), while others cause the common cold. The Wuhan coronavirus, temporarily named 2019-CoV, belongs to the same family.

The first cluster of Wuhan coronavirus infections was reported on 31 December 2019; the causal agent was identified as a novel coronavirus in early January. The origin of the virus is not clear yet, but its source is believed to be an animal reservoir as initial cases were traced to a wet market trading in a wide range of livestock; it was not created in a lab as the post claims.

Although the claim is a clear reference to the Wuhan coronavirus, given that its time of publication coincided with this virus outbreak, the patent provided in the post is for SARS-CoV, a different coronavirus which caused the 2003 outbreak that resulted in more than 8,000 cases in 26 countries. The SARS-CoV outbreak originated in the Chinese province of Guangdong, and as with the Wuhan coronavirus, evidence indicates that an animal reservoir—likely civet cats in the case of SARS-CoV—was the source of infection.

Patents for other coronaviruses, such as the avian infectious bronchitis virus, have also been used to make similar claims.

No vaccine is available for the Wuhan coronavirus as the post claims, although initial steps have been taken to begin work for a vaccine.

The World Health Organization has published recommendations for reducing the risk and transmission of infection, which include washing hands frequently and seeking prompt medical attention if you develop symptoms such as fever and cough.


Similar claims that have gone viral have been fact-checked by Snopes, PolitiFact and Lead Stories. PolitiFact rated the claim “Pants on Fire”, while Lead Stories labeled it as “Not True”.

Published on: 24 Jan 2020 | Editor:

Contrary to claims in viral social media posts, Wuhan coronavirus was not lab-created nor was it patented years before outbreak

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