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George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, looks before the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria on June 21, 2019. (AP) George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, looks before the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria on June 21, 2019. (AP)

George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, looks before the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria on June 21, 2019. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke March 19, 2020

Conspiracy theory falsely connects George Soros to COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • WuXi AppTec Group is a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with a location in Wuhan, China. The company primarily manufactures medical devices.

  • George Soros has invested in WuXi in the past, but he does not own it.

  • Research shows the genetic makeup of COVID-19 precludes it from being man-made.

George Soros has been accused of many outrageous things. Now, misinformation on Facebook is blaming the billionaire philanthropist for the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. 

"George Soros owns the WuXi PHARMA LAB located in Wuhan, China where COVID-19 was developed and conveniently Broke Out," reads a March 15 text post.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) It had more than 3,700 shares as of March 18.

(Screenshot from Facebook)

More than 191,000 people worldwide had been infected with COVID-19 as of March 18.

Like other conspiracy theories about Soros, this Facebook post is bogus. In January, the conspiracy theory was shared in a Reddit thread that cited a now-defunct fake news website.

The WuXi AppTec Group is a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in China. It works primarily on manufacturing and developing medical devices. 

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The seed of the Facebook conspiracy is the fact that the company has a location in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. And documents from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission show that Soros was a WuXi shareholder in May 2011. (Subsequent SEC filings do not list the company among Soros’ investments, perhaps because he changed the legal status of his hedge fund that summer to avoid more government regulation.)

But none of that amounts to what the Facebook posts claims: that Soros "owns" the company and its Wuhan location. WuXi’s CEO and chairman is Ge Li, according to its website. 

And scientists have found that COVID-19’s origin is likely natural — not man-made, as the Facebook post and several other conspiracy theories allege.

RELATED: 7 ways to avoid misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic

An article published March 17 says that, while the exact origin of the coronavirus is still unclear, its genetic makeup of the coronavirus precludes it from being created in a lab.

"If genetic manipulation had been performed, one of the several reverse-genetic systems available for betacoronaviruses would probably have been used," the analysis reads. "However, the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone."

The Facebook post is inaccurate. We rate it False.

Our Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in U.S., March 18, 2020

Facebook post, March 15, 2020

Nature Medicine, "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2," March 17, 2020

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus," Jan. 24, 2020

Reddit thread, Jan. 30, 2020

USA Today, "Coronavirus updates: Navy hospital ship heading to NYC; stocks fall again; death toll climbs to 115," March 18, 2020

U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, Form 13F: Soros Fund Management LLC, 2011

The Wall Street Journal, "Soros Fund All in the Family," July 27, 2011

World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 58, March 18, 2020

WuXi AppTec Group, About page, accessed March 18, 2020

WuXi AppTec Group, Our Locations, accessed March 18, 2020

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Conspiracy theory falsely connects George Soros to COVID-19

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