Fact check: The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not owned by GlaxoSmithKline

Social media users have made an unfounded connection between pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, and a Chinese laboratory about which COVID-19 conspiracy theories were.

Reuters fact check. REUTERS

Reports with the false claim can be seen (here, here). ‘The Chinese biological laboratory in Wuhan is owned by Glaxo. Who accidentally owns Pfizer (the one that makes the vaccine.) ‘, Reads the reports, while Pfizer is also linked to asset manager BlackRock, and Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft.

Unverified theories have suggested that the virus that causes COVID-19 was synthesized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (here). However, the majority of virologists and experts in infectious diseases say that the new virus will most likely develop naturally (here).

Pfizer has meanwhile been involved in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the UK and US (here).

But GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British pharmaceutical company, does not own Pfizer or the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The institute is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (here), which in turn is governed by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (here).

In 2019, a CAS member wrote an open letter in which he claimed that it is not run independently of the Chinese government (here).

“CAS has never sought or achieved financial autonomy,” the representative wrote in the scientific journal Nature.

“For the past forty years, half of its income has come directly from central government investment; the rest was from competitive financing or technology transfer ”.

While GSK has entered into joint ventures with Pfizer, the two are separate companies (uk.reuters.com/companies/GSK.L, uk.reuters.com/companies/PFE).

In fact, Pfitzer does not own one, but is owned by both members of the public and a variety of institutions, with the largest shareholder in the Vanguard Group (here) (here).


Untrue. GlaxoSmithKline does not own Pfizer or the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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