One of the companies at the fore-front of developing a vaccine for COVID-19, Moderna, has pledged not to enforce its COVID-19 related patents during the pandemic. This is commendable.
While recognising that ‘intellectual property rights play an important role in encouraging investment in research’, Moderna stated that:
…there are other COVID-19 vaccines in development that may use Moderna-patented technologies. We feel a special obligation under the current circumstances to use our resources to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible. Accordingly, while the pandemic continues, Moderna will not enforce our COVID-19 related patents against those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic.
The company also expressed its willingness to license its intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines to others after the pandemic.
It remains to be seen whether other companies in a similar position will follow Moderna’s lead in this regard. Nevertheless, this is a commendable move by Moderna and it should be applauded.