Dr. Robert Gallo
A site run by a friendly and reasonably honest woman I know recently reposted a text titled “The Man Who Created AIDS: Robert Gallo.” The text went super-viral, over 80,000 shares on Facebook alone. Once I read it, I was aghast at how much misinformation and how many scientifically illiterate statements were in the text and attached video. I wrote her explaining my reasoning, and she immediately agreed to take down the text. It still exists on other, less responsible, sites.
Unfortunately, a large part of the damage has already been done, and that among other articles has helped foster the continued existence of a completely unfounded theory based primarily on not understanding what a patent is in molecular biology. A patent on Ebola or HIV is not the
Whereas the engine’s patent is reserving the production of that type of engine to the patent holder, a patent on HIV or Ebola is a patent meant to specify how the virus was isolated, how the genotype was determined, and what this consensus genotype is.
In biology, you can patent things you found to concretely identify that component, potentially for use in a more complex system later. Keep in mind that you can even patent seeds obtained from cross-pollination: the patent does not mean the species was genetically modified in a laboratory.
The same way a patent on cross-bred species does not mean it was created in a lab, a patent on a virus genome does NOT mean it was created in a lab. Robert Gallo first published his isolation and identification of HIV in 1984, and patented this in 1985. After older blood samples were then analysed in a search for this virus, it was then found in the past: it didn’t suddenly occur in the 1970s or 1980s.
Despite the claims of the article whose damage I am working to undo, the earliest samples of HIV positive blood did not originate from New York homosexuals from the 1970s, but instead date back to 1920s Congo.
The virus most certainly did not originate from biological weapons programs, which are only today becoming advanced enough that creating such a virus is even theoretically possible. They were most certainly not advanced enough in 1920, or even 1960, to create a synthetic retrovirus, which I might add, has still never actually been accomplished. One of the articles I saw blaming Gallo comically claims that chimps were supposedly deliberately infected and released in 1979, which somehow led to the virus occurring in New York in 1971.