A post of an image showing "evidence" of a patent application for a novel coronavirus test in 2015 by a person named Richard A. Rothschild was shared by hundreds of users. This claim is false. The image shows a supplemental application that was filed in 2020 following the submission of another patent application in 2015 that was not related to the coronavirus. A spokesperson for the financial services firm Rothschild & Co. said the patent’s applicant had no link to the company.
A search on Espacenet, a platform for searching patents and applications developed by the European Patent Office, shows the application for a “System and Method for Testing for COVID-19” was listed here.
The site shows that the filing is a "continuation in part" (CIP) application for a US patent, i.e. a partial continuation of an existing application. The CIP principle allows an inventor to link a new patent with an older license, as long as the old invention contributed to the development of the new one.
Rothschild's patent, which is for a method of “acquiring and transmitting biometric data,” was first filed in 2013, as noted in the screenshot shared in the misleading Facebook posts.
The CIP application was later submitted in May 2020 because the method can be used to “determine whether the user is suffering from a viral infection, such as COVID-19,” as noted in the patent's abstract.
Rainer Osterwalder, a European Patent Office spokesperson, also said the “the patent application had no reference to COVID-19 before 2020."