Fact Check

Does Trump Own Stock in Moderna?

Most of the president's disclosed investment wealth is in the form of mutual funds that make up three family trusts administered by an outside advisor.

Published Dec. 21, 2020

OLIVE BRANCH, MS - DECEMBER 20: Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi. The federal government plans to distribute over the coming week a total of 7.9 million doses of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer Inc. (Photo by Paul Sancya - Pool/Getty Images) (Photo by Paul Sancya - Pool/Getty Images)
Image Via Photo by Paul Sancya - Pool/Getty Images
Claim:
Donald Trump owns stock in the vaccine developer Moderna, Inc.

On Dec. 18 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Moderna's COVID-19 mRNA vaccine — the second vaccine to make it to this stage of approval. Readers asked us if U.S. President Donald Trump has any financial interest in the company, which received $483 million from the Operation Warp Speed vaccine development initiative.

In terms of direct stock ownership, the answer is no. In terms of indirect stock ownership through externally managed funds, the answer is effectively no as well.

A look at Trump's most recent financial disclosure forms (for the 2019 business year) show no ownership of Moderna, Inc. stocks. As we have discussed in previous fact checks about Trump's alleged COVID-19 financial conflicts of interest, much of the president's investment income, as disclosed on his annual financial disclosure forms, comes from three family trusts, each of which are, in part, invested in mutual funds whose earnings come from a shared pool of investments. These family trusts are, according to those forms, administered without Trump’s input by J.P Morgan, an investment bank and financial-services firm, and neither Trump nor J.P. Morgan controls what stocks these funds are invested in at any given time.

In some cases, these mutual funds include holdings in pharmaceutical companies. Several of them, for example, are partially invested in the company AstraZeneca, which is also in the race to produce a COVID-19. At least one mutual fund included in all three Trump family trusts owns an extremely minor stake in Moderna at the time of this reporting. That fund — JP Morgan's Global Research Enhanced Index Equity UCITS ETF — is 0.07% invested in Moderna. An indirect interest such as this does not constitute ownership of Moderna stock, however. As such, the claim is "False."

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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