Moderna sues Pfizer over patent behind COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna is suing Pfizer and German drugmaker BioNTech, accusing a major competitor of copying Moderna’s technology to produce its own vaccine.

Moderna said on Friday that Comirnaty, a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, infringes a patent that protects the technology behind Spikevax, an injectable vaccine that Moderna filed several years ago. The company has filed patent infringement suits in both US federal and German courts.

A Pfizer spokeswoman declined to comment, saying it had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

Both Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines use mRNA technology to help patients fight coronavirus.

An mRNA vaccine works by injecting the genetic code for the spike protein that coats the surface of the coronavirus. Its code, mRNA, is encased in a small chunk of fat that instructs the body’s cells to make harmless spike copies, training the immune system to recognize the real virus.

Moderna CEO Stephan Bancel said in a prepared statement that vaccine developers pioneered the technology and invested billions of dollars to create it.

The company believes a competitor’s vaccine infringes a patent filed by Moderna between 2010 and 2016.

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