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False Claim: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock holds shares in vaccination company

A number of Facebook posts claim that UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is the majority shareholder of a vaccine and pharmaceutical company (here, here, here, here, here, here).

These claims are false: the company in question is owned by the Department of Health and Social Care, not by the minister personally.

The Facebook posts all make reference to the UK registry of companies, Companies House, and the information it carries for Porton Biopharma (here), a pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company based near Salisbury, Wilshire. The publicly available Companies House page for Porton Biopharma lists the Secretary Of State For Health as the holder of 75 percent or more of the shares in the company. Porton Biopharma confirmed to Reuters that 100 percent of assets in the company are held by the Department of Health and Social Care. The listing of ownership relates to the office and not to the individual who occupies the position. All dividends declared by Porton Biopharma are paid to Public Health England, the executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care.

At present Porton Biopharma manufactures two products: one is used in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (here) and the other is the sole licensed vaccine in the UK for anthrax (here).

Porton Biopharma is based in Porton Down, Wiltshire, where Public Health England also has a research laboratory. On February 3 Matt Hancock announced he was making an additional 20 million pounds available in funding for vaccine research at Porton Down (here and here

VERDICT

False. Matt Hancock does not have a personal stake in Porton Biopharma. The business is fully owned by the state.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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