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• The origins of the virus are still murky, but U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report made public in October that SARS-CoV-2 is not a biological weapon, and that the evidence behind that claim is not reliable.
• The idea that the virus was patented derives from a misreading of documents and confusion between the name of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and the name of the virus that causes SARS (SARS-CoV).
• Spain’s highest court did not acknowledge that COVID-19 is a patented biological weapon. That is a distortion of events that happened in September, which involved Spain’s ministry of health but not the supreme court.
An image shared on Facebook makes a disturbing claim about the virus that causes COVID-19: it is actually not a virus but a patented biological weapon, an astonishing fact affirmed by a top court in Europe.
"Spain is now the 9th country to take its health minister to court and win," the post says. "The Spanish High Court announced the COVID-19 is a bio weapon with a patent, not a virus."
None of what the post says is true. The image shared on Facebook is just the last link in a long chain of misinformation.
When asked for a source, the author of the post shared a link to an article on the website VicGeorge.net, which also includes content on the Deep State, reptilians, and the 9/11 attacks. But the article is sourced from two BitChute videos by Charlie Ward and David Mahoney, who have promoted the QAnon conspiracy in the past. And their videos reference yet another source, a news clip produced by what appears to be a Spanish TV station.
The VicGeorge.net article presents the most structured description of the false claim. It says that Spain’s supreme court asked the country’s health minister to provide evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 actually exists. It claims that the minister did not attend the hearing and instead "sent a letter explaining that NO EVIDENCE for the virus’s existence can be found."
The article goes on to say that whatever is causing COVID-19 was actually manufactured in a laboratory and was patented "years ago."
This is a distortion of events that happened in Spain earlier this year, according to Spanish fact-checking website Newtral.
In July 2021, Spain’s ministry of health received a request for information about the virus from a citizen. In September 2021, it answered the questions in the request, including one asking if the ministry had samples of the virus for testing. The ministry said it did not have them.
Ward and Mahoney claimed in their BitChute videos that this failure to provide the samples means that SARS-CoV-2 does not exist as a virus. That baseless assumption ignores other explanations for why the agency did not provide a sample of the virus.
Spain’s ministry of science told Newtral that laboratories in Spain have previously isolated SARS-CoV-2, a procedure that has been happening in laboratories around the world for two years now. According to the World Health Organization, China first isolated the virus in January 2020, and SARS-CoV-2 has since been isolated in the US, Canada, Germany, and Australia, proving that it does exist as a virus.
The claim that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a laboratory is harder to verify, because we still do not know with certainty how the pandemic started.
Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence agencies spent three months investigating the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19 and looked into the two most popular theories about how it emerged: that it came from an infected animal and that it appeared after an accident in a laboratory.
"After examining all available intelligence reporting and other information," the agencies remained divided, the declassified final report said, stating that both hypotheses were "plausible." A lack of evidence, in part due to a lack of collaboration from China, made it hard for the agencies to say with complete certainty which theory was right.
But in the same report, which was made public on Oct. 29, the agencies said that SARS-CoV-2 was not developed by China as a biological weapon. They are skeptical of these theories "because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims," because their proponents do not have access to key sites like China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, and "because their proponents are suspected of spreading disinformation."
The agencies also said that Chinese officials were unaware of the existence of the virus before the beginning of the pandemic.
Finally, the claim that the virus was patented derives from a misreading of documents, according to fact-checkers at Reuters.
Reuters examined a video that claimed to show two patents for SARS-CoV-2 filed in 2004 and 2015 — proof that the virus had been known well before the pandemic started in 2019, and had somehow been kept hidden in a secret plot.
But as reported by Reuters, and as can be seen in the patents here and here, the documents actually refer to SARS-CoV, the older virus that causes SARS and a member of the family of coronaviruses that also includes SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
The Facebook post claimed that Spain’s supreme court announced that COVID-19 is a patented biological weapon.
This inaccurate claim is based on a distortion of events that took place in Spain. The country’s highest court said no such thing. The post lacks evidence for its claim that the Chinese created the virus that causes COVID-19 as a bioweapon, and there was no patent for the virus before the pandemic started.
We rate the post False.
Anti-Defamation League, "BitChute: A Hotbed of Hate," Aug. 31, 2020
BBC Monitoring, "What’s behind the rise of QAnon in the UK?" Oct. 13, 2020
World Health Organization, "Novel Coronavirus Situation Report," Jan. 21, 2020
PolitiFact, "Debating the origins of the COVID-19 virus: What we know, what we don’t know," May 17, 2021
Office of the Director of National Intelligence, "Updated Assessment on COVID-19 Origins," Oct. 29, 2021
Office for Science and Society at McGill University, "Patently false: The disinformation over coronavirus patents," Aug. 28, 2020
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Patent US7279327B2, Apr. 19, 2002
Chiron Corp, Patent US20060257852A1, Apr. 9, 2004
Pirbright Institute, Patent EP3172319A1, July 23, 2015
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