Moderna said it was suing rival vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging the partners infringed on its patents in developing their Covid-19 shot that has been administered to hundreds of millions worldwide.
The lawsuits filed in US district court in Massachusetts and in a regional court in Dusseldorf, Germany, set up a showdown between the leading manufacturers of Covid-19 shots that are a key tool in the fight against the disease.
“Moderna believes that Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 covering Moderna’s foundational mRNA technology,” the company said in a statement on Aug 26, 2022.
“This groundbreaking technology was critical to developing Moderna’s own mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Pfizer and BioNTech copied this technology, without Moderna’s permission, to make Comirnaty,” Moderna added.
The mRNA technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots differs from traditional vaccines, which rely on injecting weakened or dead virus forms to allow the immune system to recognise it and build antibodies.
Instead, mRNA vaccines deliver instructions to cells to build a harmless piece of the spike protein found on the virus’s surface that causes Covid-19. After creating this spike protein, cells can recognise and fight the actual virus.
The vaccines have repeatedly been the subject of inaccurate claims that they are dangerous, but health authorities say they are safe and effective.