US National Institutes of Health scientists played “a major role” in developing Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine and the agency intends to defend its claim as co-owner of patents on the shot, 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 central patent for the company’s multibillion-dollar COVID-19 vaccine in its application filed in July.
“I think Moderna has made a serious mistake here in not providing the kind of co-inventorship credit to people who played a major role in the development of the vaccine that they’re now making a fair amount of money off of,” Collins said in an interview ahead of the Reuters Total Health conference, which will run virtually from Nov 15-18.
Moderna expects 2021 sales of $15 billion to $18 billion from the COVID-19 vaccine – its first and only commercial product – and up to $22 billion next year.
In a statement emailed to Reuters, Moderna acknowledged that scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) played a “substantial role” in developing Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, but the company said it disagrees with the agency’s patent claims.
Collins said the NIH has been trying to resolve the patent conflict with Moderna amicably for some time and has failed.
“But we are not done. Clearly this is something that legal authorities are going to have to figure out,” he said.
NIH has asserted 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 be named on the patent application. Graham has since retired and Corbett is now working at Harvard.
“It’s not a good idea to file a patent when you leave out important inventors, and so this is going to get sorted as people look harder at this,” Collins told Reuters.
“I did not expect that to be the outcome from what had been a very friendly, collaborative effort between scientists at NIH and Moderna over many years.”
In its statement, Moderna said, “We do not agree that NIAID scientists co-invented claims to the mRNA-1273 sequence itself. Only Moderna’s scientists came up with the sequence for the mRNA used in our vaccine.”
Moderna said the company has acknowledged NIH scientists in other patent applications, such as those related to dosing. But for the core patent, Moderna is only required to list Moderna scientists as inventors of the sequence under the strict rules of US patent law, it said.
“We are grateful for our collaboration with NIH scientists, value their contributions, and remain focused on working together to help patients,” the company added.
Parents and families across the country are breathing giant sighs of relief. And we are just getting started,” the official said.
When asked at a press conference in August if he had been vaccinated, Rodgers replied that he had been “immunized.
Last week, Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19, and, days later, admitted that he had not been inoculated. In an interview on “The Pat McAfee Show”, he said that he instead underwent a homeopathic “immunization protocol” supervised by a medical team. He also said he had taken an anti-parasite drug called ivermectin, which the CDC has repeatedly opposed as a COVID-19 treatment.
On Tuesday, Rodgers said he takes “full responsibility” for his misleading comments about his vaccination status.
“I shared an opinion that is polarizing, I get it. I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments,” he said Tuesday on the “The Pat McAfee Show,” where he first disclosed his vaccination status last week. “But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about. And I stand behind the things that I said.”
Health officials are expected to tout efforts like those in Minnesota, which opened more than 1,100 locations for kids vaccine, including a state-run site at the Mall of America, where more than 1,500 kids can be vaccinated a day; at 114 children’s hospitals that are now offering vaccinations; at mobile clinics in several states; and in New York City, which has more than 1,000 clinics planned at schools in every borough.
About 20,000 vaccination sites are already operational for children 5 to 11 years old.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy this week kicked off a nationwide effort to encourage vaccines for the youngest groups eligible, including a push for more vaccination sites. Biden will be visiting sites at schools, children’s hospitals and other sites.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also sent a letter on Monday to school superintendents and elementary school principals.
“We urge you to do all you can to help parents and families learn about the vaccine and get access to it,” the secretaries wrote in the letter, encouraging the school leaders to host a COVID-19 clinic at their schools, distribute information to families with children 5 to 11 years old and host conversations with school communities in partnership with medical professionals.
Faculty and staff at UL Lafayette are facing a deadline when it comes to covid vaccines, and tonight we’re getting a better picture of the vaccination status on campus.
Because the university has millions of dollars in federal research contracts, the university must adhere to federal vaccine guidelines, meaning faculty and staff have until January fourth to get vaccinated.
The majority of faculty and staff here on campus are already fully vaccinated, but hundreds still haven’t provided any vaccine records…
As of November 5th, about 79% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated, another five percent have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
That leaves 16% of faculty and staff or 675 people, who have not provided vaccine documentation and are potentially unvaccinated.
According to the university’s guidelines, if they don’t get vaccinated by January 4th, they won’t be allowed to work on campus, and they can be placed on either unpaid leave or paid suspension.
KATC spoke with one faculty member today who falls in that category.
They are unvaccinated and plan to challenge the mandate. They’ve asked us to conceal their identity.
“I am standing firm and not getting vaccinated for my own personal reasons, and I am standing arm and arm with anybody else that feels that way, for whatever reason it is. It’s very frustrating and it is very emotional every day to go in and know that not know if I need to pick my office or if I am going to what’s next.”
The federal mandate does allow for accommodations based on disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs.
According to the university’s numbers, as of Friday, there had not been any requests.
The professor we spoke with says they did file a request but found out it was denied Wednesday morning.