FACT CHECK: Was A Patent For A COVID-19 Test Issued In 2015?
A post shared on Facebook claims a patent for a COVID-19 testing system was issued in 2015.
The original patent application was for a biometric testing and processing system not specific to COVID-19. The COVID-19 testing patent was filed in May 2020.
The post includes a photo of what appears to be a patent application for “System and Method for Testing for COVID-19.” The patent’s abstract reads, “A method is provided for acquiring and transmitting biometric data (e.g., vital signs) of a user, where the data is analyzed to determine whether the user is suffering from a viral infection, such as COVID-19.” Text accompanying the image reads, “here is a patent from 2015……….yes it was all planned.”
While the priority date of the patent is Oct. 13, 2015, the actual patent shown in the Facebook image is not from then. The priority date is the earliest date of a filing in a family of patent applications, not the date a specific patent was published, patent attorney Vic Lin wrote in the Patent Trademark Blog.
“If an applicant has filed a number of related patent applications, the priority date would be the filing date of the earliest patent filing that first disclosed the invention,” Lin wrote. (RELATED: Did Bill Gates Patent A ‘CV19-N95’ Face Mask Design Years Before The COVID-19 Pandemic)
The patent for “System and Method for Testing COVID-19” was filed May 17, 2020, and published on Sept. 3, 2020, according to the patent summary published in the National Library of Medicine. The patent application on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) website shows other related patent documents, with the earliest one being filed Oct. 13, 2015.
The Related U.S. Application Data section of the 2020 patent application suggests it is a continuation-in-part application. This is a type of patent application that adds on to claims or inventions described in previous applications, according to USPTO.
Check Your Fact found that the related patent documents in the family that includes the “System and Method for Testing COVID-19” patent do not mention COVID-19. For example, one application was filed on April 24, 2017, and published in August 2017, and again in March 2019. At that time, it was titled, “System and Method for Using, Processing, and Displaying Biometric Data,” and did not mention COVID-19 or the coronavirus at any point.
Patents filed in February 2019 and December 2019 were also named “System and Method for Using, Processing, and Displaying Biometric Data,” and did not mention COVID-19. The Oct. 13, 2015, and Oct. 13, 2016 patent applications could not be accessed.
Furthermore, COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, according to the World Health Organization, meaning it would be impossible for the original patent application from 2015 to be related to the virus.