Covid-19 Vaccine Frontrunner Moderna Won’t Enforce Vaccine Patents During Pandemic

Topline

U.S. vaccine frontrunner Moderna says it will not enforce its Covid-19-related patents while the pandemic continues, a decision that would allow other vaccine-makers to make use of the company’s technology. 

Key Facts

In a statement Thursday, the company said it felt a “special obligation… to use our resources to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible.” 

The enforcement stay will only apply to those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic, the company said, adding that it is willing to license its intellectual property underpinning its experimental Covid-19 vaccine once the pandemic is over.

In August, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. government will purchase 100 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which is currently undergoing clinical trials, for $1.5 billion. 

Key Background

Moderna is considered a frontrunner in the Covid-19 vaccine race. It entered phase 3 clinical trials in July but is unlikely to be approved until early 2021. The vaccine’s development has been heavily supported by the federal government — Moderna received $1 billion to develop the vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed. In September, Moderna slowed enrolment in its vaccine trial to ensure it represented minority groups disproportionately affected by Covid-19. 

What We Don’t Know

Moderna’s temporary stay on enforcing its vaccine patents may not be enough to encourage other vaccine developers to make use of their technology, especially when enforcement resumes in the post-pandemic era. 

Crucial Quote

Oxfam America senior advisor Niko Lusiani praised Moderna’s decision in a statement and called on other leading vaccine manufacturers to do the same. “This announcement now sets a new expectation for all Covid-19 vaccine developers to do the same,” he said.

However, Lusiani said that with a pandemic of this magnitude “we cannot rely on the ad hoc and partial good will of one corporation. Governments and corporations must work together to curb unfettered monopolies over drug vaccines, which prevents governments from taking the necessary steps to expand supply and reduce prices. All Covid-19 treatments and vaccines must be global public goods.”

Further Reading

Scientists Raise Questions About Moderna Vaccine In Market-Shaking Report (Forbes)

Operation Warp Speed Has Over $6 Billion In Secret Covid-19 Vaccine Contracts Evading Scrutiny (Forbes)

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