Moderna: why is company suing Pfizer and BioNTech over Covid vaccine technology - is share price affected?

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Moderna is accusing its rivals of copying its technology to make their own vaccines

The producer of a Covid-19 vaccine is suing its rivals over their own jabs.

Moderna is accusing Pfizer and the German drug manufacturer BioNTech of copying its technology in order to make their own vaccine.

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The company filed patent infringement lawsuits in both US federal court and a German court.

Here is all you need to know:

Why is Moderna suing Pfizer and BioNTech?

Moderna said Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine Comirnaty infringes on patents Moderna filed several years ago protecting the technology behind its preventive shot, Spikevax.

Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said in a prepared statement that the vaccine developer pioneered that technology and invested billions of dollars in creating it.

The company said it believes its rivals’ vaccine infringes on patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016.

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Moderna said it recognises the importance of vaccine access and is not seeking to remove Comirnaty from the market.

It is also not asking for an injunction to prevent future sales.

How have Pfizer and BioNTech responded?

Pfizer spokeswoman Pam Eisele said the company had not fully reviewed Moderna’s lawsuit but was surprised by it, given that their vaccine is based on proprietary technology developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer.

She said the company would “vigorously defend” against any allegations in the case.

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BioNTech did not immediately respond to a request from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Medical staff preparing shots of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: PAMedical staff preparing shots of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: PA
Medical staff preparing shots of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: PA

Is there similarity between the vaccines?

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

The mRNA vaccines work by injecting a genetic code for the spike protein that coats the surface of the coronavirus.

That code, the mRNA, is encased in a little ball of fat, and instructs the body’s cells to make some harmless spike copies that train the immune system to recognise the real virus.

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That approach is radically different to how vaccines have traditionally been made.

Moderna said it started developing its mRNA technology platform in 2010, and that helped the company quickly produce its Covid-19 vaccine after the pandemic arrived in early 2020.

By the end of that year, US regulators had cleared shots from both Pfizer and Moderna for use after clinical research showed that both were highly effective.

How have the share prices changed?

Yahoo Finance is showing that Moderna share prices are down 2.2% on 26 August, following the news of the lawsuit.

It is down to 138.80 dollars per share.

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BioNTech share prices have also fallen following the accusations - also down 2.2% to 145.29 dollars per share.

Pfzier stock is down 1.29% on Friday - falling to 47.28 dollars per share.

What is Moderna?

On its website, Moderna describes its mission as “to deliver on the promise of mRNA science to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients”.

Moderna was founded in 2010 and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

It focuses on RNA therapeutics, primarily mRNA vaccines.

RNA therapeutics are a new class of medications based on ribonucleic acid (RNA).

The technology was used in a number of Covid-19 vaccines - includong Moderna and Pfizer.

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