Moderna Inc., the current frontrunner in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, said it will not enforce patents related to its work amid the ongoing pandemic, enabling other companies to potentially follow a similar blueprint while developing their own product.
“As a company committed to innovation, Moderna recognizes that intellectual property rights play an important role in encouraging investment in research,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Our portfolio of intellectual property is an important asset that will protect and enhance our ability to continue to invest in innovative medicines.”
The company said it felt a “special obligation under the current circumstances” to use its resources in a bid to end the pandemic as quickly as possible. Company CEO Stephane Bancel has previously stated that it will take more than one company to supply enough vaccines to combat the coronavirus.
“Accordingly, while the pandemic continues, Moderna will not enforce our COVID-19 related patents against those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic,” the company said. “Further, to eliminate any perceived IP barriers to vaccine development during the pandemic period, upon request we are also willing to license our intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines to others for the post-pandemic period.”
Moderna has released several updates related to its vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273, in recent weeks, including that it was found to elicit immune responses in older adults in levels comparable to those seen in younger people.
Bancel recently told the Financial Times that he doesn’t think his company will be able to apply for authorization from the FDA until late November at the earliest and it wouldn’t be available to the general public until sometime next spring.
“November 25 is the time we will have enough safety data to be able to put into an EUA file that we would send to the FDA – assuming that the safety data is good, i.e. a vaccine is deemed safe,” he said.
The U.S. government has already struck a deal with Moderna for 100 million doses of the vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed, with an option to buy an additional 400 million doses.