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Fact check: Dr. Fauci was not the first CEO and other false claims about biotech company Moderna

Tens of thousands of users are sharing a series of claims that link Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, George Soros and Jeffrey Epstein to Moderna, one of the leading contenders in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The allegations presented in social media posts are unfounded.

A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The main false claims presented in these posts are that Dr. Anthony Fauci was the first CEO of Moderna; that Bill Gates and Dr. Fauci were college roomates; that George Soros was the founder of Moderna and that Jeffrey Epstein was the main investor of Moderna until his death.

A video featuring these claims shared over 47,000 times on Facebook is visible here . A text version featuring these claims is visible here .

Moderna did not respond to Reuters request for comment, this fact check will be updated if they do.

Moderna, Inc is a biotech company ( www.modernatx.com/ ) that has received nearly $1 billion from the U.S. government to develop its coronavirus vaccine. Its candidate, mRNA-1273, is already in late-stage human trials testing its ability to safely prevent coronavirus infection ( here , here ).

“FAUCI WAS THE FIRST CEO OF MODERNA”

The claim falsely alleges that Anthony Fauci was the first CEO of Moderna when he was “a young graduate from Cornell”.

Dr. Anthony Fauci obtained a medical degree from Cornell University’s Medical College in 1966, where he graduated first of his class ( here ). He started working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1968, as a clinical associate at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) ( www.oar.nih.gov/about/fauci ).

Moderna Inc. was founded over four decades later, in 2010 in Cambridge, Massachusetts ( here ), by Derrick Rossi, Robert Langer, Kenneth R Chien, and venture capitalist Noubar Afeyan ( here , here , here ).

Stéphane Bancel, was appointed first Chief Executive Officer of Moderna in 2011 and continues to hold the position. ( here )

Dr. Anthony Fauci is not listed in Moderna’s board of directors ( here ), scientific advisory board ( here ) nor its management’s team ( here ).

“FAUCI AND GATES WERE COLLEGE ROOMMATES”

Bill Gates was not a student at Cornell University. He enrolled at Harvard University in 1973, seven years after Dr. Fauci graduated from Cornell, and dropped out to co-found Microsoft Corp ( www.gatesnotes.com/Bio ).

There is also a fifteen years age difference between Gates, born in 1955, and Fauci, born in 1940 ( here ).

Some iterations of the claim also include the false allegation that Bill Gates “designed the RFID (Radio-frequency identification) and patened (sic) it under US2006257852”.

The alleged patent mentioned in the post has nothing to do with RFID technology nor Bill Gates. Reuters previously debunked a claim regarding this patent here . More on the history of the RFID technology is visible here .

“GEORGE SOROS FOUNDED MODERNA”

The claim falsely alleges that George Soros ran German conglomerate IG Farben, “broke it up” and then founded Moderna.

According to a DW report here , IG Farben “was once the world’s largest chemicals company” and was closely linked to the Nazi regime. The German conglomerate came under Allied powers after the end of World War Two and was ordered to dismantle ( here ). Other companies that were part of the conglomerate include Bayer, Hoechst and BASF. IG Farben went into liquidation in 1952 ( here ).

George Soros did not run IG Farben nor did he disband it. When the conglomerate was dismantled, Soros was a teenager. Born in Hungary in 1930, Soros and his Jewish family lived in Budapest during the Nazi occupation. In 1947, he left to study at the London School of Economics ( here ).

Some iterations of the claim also falsely state that Soros was a Nazi. Reuters previously debunked this claim here

Moderna was founded in 2010 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more about the company’s history ( here )

“EPSTEIN WAS A MAIN MODERNA STOCKHOLDER”

The posts falsely claim that late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was one of Moderna’s primary stockholders until 2019, when he was found unconscious in a Manhattan jail cell with injuries to his neck while facing charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls ( here ).

Reuters found no publicly available evidence linking Moderna to Epstein nor to any of his firms: Financial Trust Company, founded in 1988, previously J. Epstein & Company here and Southern Trust, founded in 2012 here .

The top owners of Moderna are visible here and here .

Some iterations of the claim also falsely state that Epstein generated his fortune through Moderna, but by 2010 when the company was founded, Epstein’s fortune was already well established. (In 2010, Forbes debunked here the notion that Epstein was a billionaire and said he was likely worth “a fraction of that.”)

VERDICT

False. Unfounded claims falsely link Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, George Soros and Jeffrey Epstein to the potential coronavirus vaccine developer Moderna.

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

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