Right-wing commentator Candace Owens is alleging connections between the Gates Foundation and Moderna, and Dr. Anthony Fauci and Moderna in a video posted on Instagram.
In the video, Owens says she is a “lion” seeking to understand the mentality of the “sheep” who plan on taking a coronavirus vaccine when it is available. She asks: “What do you think about the ties that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has to this vaccine, has to Moderna? What do you think about the ties that Dr. Fauci has to Moderna?”
Moderna’s vaccine development has been supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is itself supported by the Gates Foundation, but the only apparent direct financial connection between Moderna and the Gates Foundation is a 2016 grant awarded to the company by the Gates Foundation to develop an HIV antibody therapeutic utilizing messenger RNA. The grant allowed for the possibility of Moderna receiving additional Gates funds up to $100 million for follow-on projects “to support the development of additional mRNA-based projects for various infectious diseases.” It’s unclear if Moderna’s vaccine, which is mRNA-based, received funding through the Gates grant. Neither Moderna or the Gates Foundation have responded to a request for comment.
There have been a number of conspiracy theories about ties between Fauci and Moderna, ranging from claims that Fauci was the first CEO of the company—he wasn’t—to claims that Fauci owns half of the patent for the company’s coronavirus vaccine—he doesn’t. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, while Moderna wasn’t founded until 2010. The founding CEO of the company was Stéphane Bancel, appointed in 2011.
Moderna’s vaccine was developed with support from the NIAID, and, as covered in a past fact check, analysis from Axios found that the National Institutes of Health, of which the NIAID is part, may own intellectual property used in producing Moderna's vaccine. Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, has also said that NIH has a stake in intellectual property used in the vaccine, though what exactly this means in practical terms is unclear. Regardless, there’s nothing to connect Fauci as an individual to either Moderna or its vaccine, nor anything to suggest that he stands to gain financially from the use of this vaccine.
Owens did not present evidence for her claims, nor did she explain what any of these alleged “ties” were to her viewers, instead saying: “I’m not going to even tell you what they are.” While the Gates Foundation did provide Moderna with research funds for HIV therapeutics, there is no evidence to support Owens’ allegations of ties between Fauci and Moderna.
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