Fact check: Moderna post makes false claims about Fauci, Gates, Soros, Epstein
The claim: George Soros founded Moderna, Jeffrey Epstein was an investor, Anthony Fauci was its first CEO and Bill Gates was his college roommate
News of biotech company Moderna’s planned development of a vaccine against the coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, has incited internet conspiracy theorists. A popular social media claim links certain high-profile individuals to Moderna and their apparent investment in the vaccine. USA TODAY reported on Moderna’s progress in late August.
The video outlines alleged connections between Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as part of a larger conspiracy theory about government-mandated vaccinations against the coronavirus.
The narrator of the video claims Moderna already has the vaccine. It also states Fauci, a graduate of Cornell University, was Moderna’s first CEO.
Fauci’s ties to Gates began at Cornell, the video alleges, because the two were roommates.
The video also states IG Farben, a company that was “heavily involved” in experiments during World War II, was run by Soros, a “Jewish Nazi” who later became an American citizen. Soros apparently formed Moderna from IG Farben.
Finally, the video claims Epstein, the billionaire financier who died in prison while awaiting a trial for sex-trafficking charges, was a major financial backer of Moderna.
Smith summarizes the “relationship” between Soros, Fauci, Gates and Epstein in the post caption, finishing with, “DO YOU GET IT NOW.”
Smith is described as a “Truthseeker” and proudly declares “2 of my pages were deleted by FB” on a Facebook profile page. Smith also claims to manipulate mainstream media and references U.N. Agenda 21 in a Gab.com profile. Gab.com is a social network that “champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online,” according to its website.
USA TODAY reached out to Smith for comment.
Was Soros a ‘Jewish Nazi?’
Soros was born in Budapest in 1930. His father, a Jewish lawyer, forged papers that disguised their religion during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, according to the BBC.
There is no evidence of Soros joining the Nazi party during WWII — he would have been 14 years old when the Nazis surrendered in 1945 — or anytime during his transformation from London investment banker to billionaire American philanthropist.
Soros has openly supported the Democratic Party. The BBC reported Soros has been the target of right-wing attacks founded in Nazi-era conspiracy theories about Jewish bankers plotting a “New World Order.”
Who founded Moderna?
The founding of the biotech company is incorrectly attributed to Soros in the claim. Harvard University professor Dr. Derrick Rossi founded Moderna in 2010 to manufacture his research-based therapeutics, according to a 2014 interview with the Journal of Young Investigators.
“The biotech company is called Moderna Therapeutics and it’s probably one the most successful young biotech companies in Boston/Cambridge right now. It is only 4 years old. … The technology at the heart of the company, which we developed in my lab, is very exciting and very powerful,” Rossi told JYI.
Soros did not create the company from IG Farben. The German chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate was dissolved by Allied forces after WWII for manufacturing gas chamber poison and exploiting slave labor, according to The New York Times. Its most important factories formed the basis of chemical companies Bayer, Hoechst AG and BASF, but not Moderna.
USA TODAY reached out to Moderna for comment and confirmation.
Was Fauci the CEO for Moderna?
Moderna’s founding team was comprised of Doug Cole and Noubar Afeyan, according to the website for investor Flagship Pioneering. Afeyan is also Flagship’s founder and CEO.
A search for “Fauci” on Flagship Pioneering’s website produced no results. Fauci is included in two search results on Moderna’s website. The first mentioned his interview with National Geographic about an experiment conducted by Moderna. He is listed as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in that entry. NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health.
The other search result is a 2019 Shareholder Letter that names Fauci as a co-reviewer of a vaccine platform Moderna is working to improve.
Fauci is not identified as the former CEO of Moderna in either instance. Widely available evidence, like his official biography on the NIAID website, states Fauci has served as director of the institute since his appointment in 1984.
Were Fauci and Gates college roommates?
Fauci received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical Center in 1966, according to the Brooklyn Reporter. That is nearly a decade before Gates entered Harvard University. NPR reported Gates intended to study pre-law but shifted his focus to math and science before taking his first of two leaves of absence in 1975. He was eventually awarded an honorary degree in 2007.
Gates and Fauci did not attend the same colleges and could not have been college roommates.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is listed as one of Moderna’s collaborators, according to Flagship Pioneering.
What is Epstein’s relationship to Moderna?
Epstein left his position as a tax adviser with Bear Stearns Cos. to start his own investment company in 1982, according to USA TODAY. Details about Epstein’s Financial Trust Co. are reportedly vague, but the company is not listed as a primary stockholder in Moderna, according to CNN Business.
A search for “Jeffrey Epstein” on the websites for Moderna and Flagship Pioneering generated no results.
Our rating: False
We rate this claim FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. George Soros did not found Moderna, as the claim states. Dr. Anthony Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, but never worked for Moderna. Bill Gates and Fauci attended different colleges and could not have been roommates. Lastly, Jeffrey Epstein’s company Financial Trust Co. is not a major stakeholder in Moderna, according to records.
Our fact-check sources:
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.”
Flagship Pioneering, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Companies: Moderna”
Flagship Pioneering, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “People: Noubar Afeyan, Founder & CEO”
Flagship Pioneering, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “People: Stéphane Bancel, Venture Partner”
BBC News, May 31, 2018, (archived): “Profile: Billionaire philanthropist George Soros”
CNN Business, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Moderna Inc. Shareholders”
USA TODAY, July 8, 2019: “Who is Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire charged with sex trafficking girls as young as 14?”
NPR Legacy, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Timeline: Bill Gates, From Geek to Gazillionaire to Do-Gooder”
Brooklyn Reporter, March 2, 2020: “Brooklyn-born disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says we may be on the brink of a pandemic”
Journal of Young Investigators, Oct. 1, 2014: “Interview with Dr. Derrick Rossi of Moderna Therapeutics”
Moderna, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Moderna’s Work on a COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate”
Moderna, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Moderna 2019 Shareholder Letter”
Harvard Stem Cell Institute, retrieved Sept. 4, 2020: “Derrick J. Rossi, Ph.D.”
The New York Times, May 2, 1999: “THE BUSINESS WORLD; I.G. Farben: A Lingering Relic of the Nazi Years”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Fauci, Gates, Soros, Epstein not tied to Moderna
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