Federal Government Might Have Stake in Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine

June 26, 2020 Updated: June 26, 2020

The federal government might have partial ownership of Moderna’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine, according to reports.

According to documents obtained by Axios, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may possess some of the intellectual property used to develop Moderna’s vaccine for the CCP virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.

NIH and Massachusetts-based Moderna, who have worked together for several years to research coronaviruses, signed a contract in December before the CCP virus had been sequenced. These federal documents stated that “mRNA [Moderna] coronavirus vaccine candidates [are] developed and jointly owned” by the medical research center and Moderna.

If true, the federal government could try to facilitate wide distribution of the vaccine at low cost, or no cost at all, guaranteed that the product is both safe and effective.

Four scientists at NIH meanwhile have filed for a provisional patent application entitled “2019-nCoV vaccine,” disclosures in a pending scientific paper co-authored by Moderna scientists shows.

Zain Rizvi, a health law and policy researcher at Public Citizen, told the news outlet that this makes it evident that “the government and the public have a stake” in the CCP virus vaccine.

“The vaccine would not exist without the intellectual contributions of federal scientists,” he added.

In a statement, the NIH told Axios that its scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—one of the institutes that makes up the NIH—“created stabilized coronavirus spike proteins for the development of vaccines against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.”

“Recognizing the importance of these novel immunogens, NIAID has sought patents to preserve the government’s rights to these inventions and to provide incentive for commercial partners to invest the capital and resources needed to advance their development, commercialization, and public use as vaccines,” the statement reads.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Moderna for comment.

Moderna’s vaccine is currently in phase 2 clinical trial and the findings are not yet peer-reviewed and are available on bioRxiv, a preprint research server. The trial, led by the NIAID, started in Seattle on March 16.

The American biotech company said Thursday that it was partnering with contract drugmaker Catalent to prepare an initial 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for the United States, starting in the third quarter of this year.

Catalent will fill and package doses, support production, and provide additional staffing for around-the-clock operations to produce the vaccine, which is still in clinical trials.

The vaccine, among the first to be tested in humans in the United States, was found to produce protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers last month. Antibodies are a blood protein produced by the immune system to combat viruses and other foreign material.

Moderna is preparing to begin the final stages of testing in July to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing the respiratory illness in around 30,000 adult trial participants.

Reuters contributed to this report.