Modern COVID-19 vaccine patent dispute leads to court

Scientists at the US National Institutes of Health played “an important role” in the development of Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the agency intends to defend its claim as a co-owner of the vaccine’s patents. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins told Reuters on Wednesday.

In a story first reported by the New York Times On Tuesday, Moderna excluded three NIH scientists as co-inventors of a core patent for the company’s multi-million dollar COVID-19 vaccine in its application filed in July.

“I think Moderna has made a serious mistake here by not providing the kind of co-inventor credit to people who played a significant role in the development of the vaccine that they are now making a good deal of money with,” Collins said. . in an interview prior to the Reuters Total Health conference, which runs virtually from November 15-18.

Moderna expects sales in 2021 of $ 15 billion to $ 18 billion of the COVID-19 vaccine, its first and only commercial product, and up to $ 22 billion next year.

Moderna’s logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken on November 9, 2020 (credit: REUTERS).

Collins said the agency has been trying to resolve the patent dispute with Moderna amicably for some time and has failed.

“But we are not done. Clearly, this is something that the legal authorities will have to resolve,” he said.

The NIH has claimed that three of its scientists, Dr. John Mascola, Dr. Barney Graham, and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, helped design the genetic sequence used in Moderna’s vaccine and should appear in the patent application. Graham has since retired and Corbett now works at Harvard.

“It is not a good idea to file a patent when important inventors are omitted, so this will be resolved as people look at it more closely,” Collins told Reuters.

“I didn’t expect that to be the result of what had been a very friendly collaborative effort between NIH and Moderna scientists for many years.”

Moderna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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