NIH Co-Owns Moderna mRNA Vaccine Patent, Promotes Moderna Vaccines

The National Institutes of Health co-owns the Moderna mRNA COVID vaccine patent, endorses the same vaccine.

QUICK FACTS:
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said in May “We do have some particular stake in the intellectual property” behind Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.
  • The NIH and Moderna signed a contract last December stating “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates [are] developed and jointly owned” by the two parties, reports Axios.
  • Four NIH scientists have filed for a provisional patent application entitled “2019-nCoV vaccine,” according to disclosures in a pending scientific paper, also notes Axios.
  • The NIH also promotes the use of vaccines, as does Director Collins.
THE PATENT:
  • The specific U.S. government patent number is 10,960,070 (better known as the ’070 patent), according to Financial Times.
  • The patent relates to how the spike protein is stabilized in the mRNA vaccine, “a technique that was developed by the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center.”
  • Scientists at the NIH “designed the spike protein molecule that Moderna’s vaccine needed to trigger a human immune response against the virus,” according to The Washington Post.
THE NIH PROMOTES VACCINES:
  • The NIH website says the Moderna mRNA COVID vaccine is “safe and effective” while offering an infographic to educate users on its ingredients (see below).
  • “Vaccines have very high safety standards, and the vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 are no exception,” reads the NIH website. “COVID-19 vaccines are authorized  by the FDA for use only if they have proven safe and effective in a large group of people.”
From the NIH.gov website
A “CONFLICT OF INTEREST”:
  • Dr. Ryan Cole, owner and operator of Cole Diagnostics, claims that the relationship between the NIH and vaccine manufacturers represents a “conflict of interest,” having the “federal government in bed with a vaccine company.”
  • “They don’t want a [non-vaccine] therapy to work because then they can vend their vaccine,” he said.
  • Non-vaccine coronavirus treatments include the use of Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, and Remdesivir respectively (here, here, here).
WHAT THE NIH DIRECTOR SAID:
  • “Talking to the companies, I don’t hear any of them say they think this [vaccine] is a money-maker,” Collins said during an interview.
  • “I think they want to recoup their costs and maybe make a tiny percentage of increase of profit over that, like single digits percentage-wise, but that’s it.”
  • “Nobody sees this as a way to make billions of dollars,” he added.
BACKGROUND:
  • In 2005, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published revelations that patients who took part in NIH clinical trials “had no idea” that scientists at the institutes received $8.9 million in royalty payments—benefiting financially—for the use of their discoveries by pharmaceutical companies and device makers.
  • “This information was not made public until the press agency obtained the information after filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act,” notes BMJ.
  • Science Magazine published an article in 2019 revealing that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “found that in 2018, 202 of 2064 grantee institutions reported any financial conflicts of interests. A total of 1668 unique grants had at least one conflict. In total, 3978 separate ‘significant financial interests’ were reported, because grants can have more than one investigator, and each investigator can have several types of conflicts.”
  • “About half of these significant financial interests involved researchers holding an equity stake in a company,” the Science piece goes on to say. “One-fourth involved payment for services. Institutions said they could not readily report monetary values for about 45% of reported conflicts, mostly because they involved privately owned equities, the OIG report says. When institutions did tell NIH dollar values of significant financial interests posing conflicts, 85% were less than $100,000 (see graph).”
Screenshot from ScienceMag.org taken July 27, 2021
  • In April 2021, The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted “concerns over the fruits of this funding [for U.S. universities] going abroad and undisclosed conflicts of interest.” “U.S. research may be subject to undue foreign influence in cases where a researcher has a foreign conflict of interest,” said the Office.
  • “GAO found that NIH’s policy focuses on financial conflicts of interest but does not specifically address or define non-financial interests, which may include multiple professional appointments,” the publication went on to say. “In the absence of agency-wide policies and definitions on non-financial interests, universities that receive federal grant funding may lack sufficient guidance to identify and manage conflicts appropriately, potentially increasing the risk of undue foreign influence.”