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Big Pharma Hits Out at Africa’s Replica Covid Vaccine

Moderna has filed several patents in South Africa and has refused to cooperate and share technology with the hub in Africa, likening the replica vaccine to a “copy of a Louis Vuitton handbag”. In addition, Moderna is suing fellow mRNA vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech, which has raised fears that it could enforce patents against the hub regarding any future vaccines it may develop for illnesses other than Covid. Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, said in August: “We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the Covid-19 pandemic.” In March, Moderna released a statement saying the company was “now updating its patent pledge to never enforce its patents for Covid-19 vaccines against manufacturers in or for the 92 low and middle-income countries in the Gavi Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC), provided that the manufactured vaccines are solely for use in the AMC 92 countries”. It continued: “In non-AMC 92 countries … the company expects those using Moderna-patented technologies will respect the company’s intellectual property.” South Africa is not one of the 92 countries on the AMC list but Moderna has confirmed the hub will be included in the updated pledge. The WHO mRNA hub in Cape Town will share the knowhow with 15 to 20 “spokes” in Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe, creating a network of scientists who will collaborate to produce mRNA vaccines in low and middle-income countries. Scientists from Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia and Egypt have travelled to the hub in South Africa to start training.