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Moderna sues Pfizer for ‘copying’ COVID-19 vaccine technology

Moderna, a biotechnology company, says it is filing patent infringement lawsuits against Pfizer and BioNTech for copying its mRNA technology in order to make their own COVID vaccine.

According to a statement by Moderna, the mRNA technology, which was critical to the development of its vaccine called Spikevax, was replicated by Pfizer and BioNTech to make Comirnaty — their own vaccine.

“Moderna believes Pfizer and BioNTech copied two key features of Moderna’s patented technologies which are critical to the success of mRNA vaccines. When COVID-19 emerged, neither Pfizer nor BioNTech had Moderna’s level of experience with developing mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases, and they knowingly followed Moderna’s lead in developing their own vaccine,” the statement reads.

“First, Pfizer and BioNTech took four different vaccine candidates into clinical testing, which included options that would have steered clear of Moderna’s innovative path. Pfizer and BioNTech, however, ultimately decided to proceed with a vaccine that has the same exact mRNA chemical modification to its vaccine as Spikevax®. Second, and again despite having many different options, Pfizer and BioNTech copied Moderna’s approach to encode for the full-length spike protein in a lipid nanoparticle formulation for a coronavirus.”

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO, said the company is filing the lawsuits to “protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“This foundational platform, which we began building in 2010, along with our patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, enabled us to produce a safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time after the pandemic struck,” she said.

Moderna said it recognises the importance of vaccine access and is not seeking to remove Comirnaty from the market or asking for an injunction to prevent future sales.

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