Is Gates Foundation funding biotech startups to develop MRNA vaccines for animals?
At a time when most people around the world have already put the COVID-19 pandemic behind the rearview mirror, some are still trying to spread misinformation and flame the fan of mRNA vaccines to keep the fear alive. The latest is from Australia with the claim that “farmers and ranchers are required to inject livestock with mRNA vaccines.”
Earlier today, an Australian Twitter user by the name of Pelham shared a tweet that reads:
“Bill Gates funded Tiba Biotech is in late stage trails of MRNA vaccines for animals. These trails are being tested in Australia, Canada, UK and America. These MRNA vaccines are expected to enter the food supply as early as next month.”
However, this claim is not grounded in truth. Her claim was based on a January 2023 video shared by Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis, which has already been flagged by Twitter as misinformation. In the video, Dr. Loupis claimed that “Bill Gates wants to ‘vaccinate’ animals to give them better genetics.”
Bill Gates funded Tiba Biotech is in late stage trails of MRNA vaccines for animals. These trails are being tested in Australia, Canada, UK and America…
These MRNA vaccines are expected to enter the food supply as early as next month. pic.twitter.com/RyACfCTgBG
— Pelham (@Resist_05) April 17, 2023
But as Twitter Community Notes pointed out, Dr. Loupis misquoted Microsoft co-founder and misrepresented what Mr. Gates actually said:
“Full quote in video is: “Helping (livestock) animals survive EITHER by having vaccines OR better genetics.” Bill Gates is not saying he wants to ‘vaccinate’ animals to give them better genetics. Currently, better genetics can only be achieved with livestock breeding programs,” Twitter Community Notes explained.
mRNA Vaccines for Animals
The misinformation and the whole idea of mRNA vaccines for animals could be traced back to 2016 when BioNTech (co-makers of the Pfizer vaccine) and Bayer came out with a press release titled, “Bayer and BioNTech Join Forces to Develop Innovative New mRNA Vaccines and Therapeutics for Animal Health Applications.”
“Bayer and BioNTech AG, a leading immunotherapy company headquartered in Mainz, Germany have entered into an agreement to develop novel, first-in-class mRNA vaccines and therapeutics specifically for Animal Health applications. BioNTech will contribute its proprietary mRNA technology platform, formulation development capabilities, immunology expertise and intellectual property, while Bayer’s Animal Health unit will provide its development expertise and disease know-how. This is the first partnership of its kind making a substantial investment in mRNA therapeutics specifically for Animal Health applications,” the companies said in the release.
However, according to a report by AP, citing an email from the U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson Marissa Perry, “In terms of COVID-19 specifically, there are no licensed mRNA vaccines against that disease for animals.”
Suresh Kuchipudi, a veterinary scientist and chair of emerging infectious diseases at Penn State University, also corroborated Perry’s statement saying that “there are no animal vaccines currently licensed in the U.S. against any disease that use the same mRNA approach as humans.”
“Some animals, particularly those in zoos considered susceptible, have received vaccines against COVID-19. But those immunizations do not rely on mRNA technology,” Kuchipudi told AP.
Experts also say there are no animal vaccines currently licensed in the U.S. against any disease that use the same mRNA approach as humans COVID-19 vaccines, which entails delivering the mRNA by using a fatty coating called lipid nanoparticles — though some are being researched.
There are some animal vaccines that use other RNA platforms. The pharmaceutical company Merck has for several years offered a customizable vaccine using what it calls “RNA particle technology”; the company creates vaccines against the flu and other viruses in pigs to protect a specific herd as needed. That approach predates the advent of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
“The notion that mRNA vaccines would be transmissible through animal consumption — much less cause harm to the consumer — is not rooted in scientific evidence”, The Associated Press reported, citing the experts.
“The messenger RNA is extremely fragile,” Kuchipudi said and is typically gone within days of receipt. “The chance of the mRNA being transferred, even hypothetically, is extremely unlikely.”
What About the claim that Bill Gates funded Tiba Biotech in late-stage trials of mRNA vaccines for animals?
Yes, Gates did invest in Tiba Biotech but not as Pelham had claimed. Below is Tiba Biotech’s announcement in March 2018 about the funding from Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation:
“Tiba raises its first round of seed capital, secures a research grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, and establishes a collaboration with colleagues at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases focused (USAMRIID).”
The same month, the biotech startup also reported that it closed $2 million in additional funding “from a group of individuals and international investors.”
“In parallel with completing a funded benchmarking study for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tiba completes an over-subscribed round of +$2M in funding from a group of individuals and international investors interested in supporting global health and rapid response vaccines.”