Does Trump Own Stock in a Company CDC Uses for COVID-19 Tests?

The U.S. president’s finances are complex, but does Donald Trump actually benefit from the CDC’s testing procedures for the new coronavirus?

  • Published 11 March 2020

Claim

Donald Trump owned stock in Thermo-Fisher Scientific at a time when his presidential administration was advocating for a COVID-19 test that uses Thermo-Fisher equipment.

Rating

Origin

On March 6, 2020, Amee Vanderpool published a story on her “Shero” newsletter raising the possibility U.S. President Donald Trump benefited financially from the test the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed for COVID-19, which is caused by the new coronavirus. She purported he owns stock in Thermo-Fisher Scientific, which produces a machine necessary for the test:

According to the Associated Press, Donald Trump, the current President of the United States who is supposed to be managing the Coronavirus epidemic and how the testing is conducted, has listed investments in V.F. Corp (VFC) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation (TMO) … There is reason to believe that Donald Trump stands to profit from medical testing of coronavirus that will now take place in the United States.

Though Vanderpool later updated her post to reflect that Trump currently owns no stocks in Thermo-Fisher, the claim of a potential conflict of interest continues to be repeated online. 

The CDC’s COVID-19 test does indeed require a machine made by a company owned by Thermo-Fisher, Applied Systems. Official CDC testing guidelines specifically require an Applied Biosystems “7500 Fast Dx Real-Time PCR System with SDS 1.4 software.” In other words, both the PCR system and software are produced by Thermo-Fisher.

Vanderpool cited a 2016 Associated Press story as evidence that Trump owned shares of Thermo-Fisher. While his ownership of Thermo-Fisher shares was accurate at the time, the president’s financial-disclosure forms indicate he sold those shares sometime in 2017.

Financial disclosures from 2016 and 2017 (each of which reflect the preceding financial year) indicated the president owned “$50,001-$100,000” worth of Thermo-Fisher stock in 2015 and 2016. Financial disclosures filed in 2018 and 2019, however, indicate that the president has not owned stock in Thermo-Fisher since the 2017 financial year.

Although Trump has refused to release his tax returns and has not necessarily been transparent about all of his finances, the evidence used to support the claim that he could benefit financially from the new COVID-19 test is categorically flawed. As such, we rank the claim as “False.”