Moderna Doesn’t Plan To Enforce Coronavirus Vaccine Patents During Pandemic

Drugmakers live and die by the exclusivity provided by patents on their medications. Generic competition or even a branded competitor can substantially cut a company’s market share. But Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is putting society ahead of its bottom line. The biotech announced on Thursday that it won’t enforce patents for its coronavirus vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company noted: “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.”

Moderna has patents on its base technology, which allows for the expression of protein-based vaccines in patients’ cells through the use of mRNA. The company also has patents on the delivery of mRNA-based vaccines using its lipid nanoparticles technology.

Investors shrugged off the announcement, with shares closing up 0.8% for the day. That might be because Moderna is in a no-win situation. If it did actually try to enforce patents to keep other drugmakers from launching competing vaccines, the biotech would be seen as a bully given the unprecedented need. At least by saying it won’t enforce the patents, Moderna gets a public relations boost.

The company could even make a little money off the situation. Moderna said it’s willing to license its intellectual property for coronavirus vaccines in the post-pandemic period. Competitors worried about a patent fight might agree to pay for a license to reduce their risk.

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Brian Orelli, PhD and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Nine vaccine candidates are in last-stage trials Nine vaccine candidates are in last-stage trials Photo: Russian Direct Investment Fund / Handout

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Seattle Public Schools still doesn’t know for sure how many students have sufficient internet for school

Since COVID-19 first shut down in-person learning, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has distributed devices and internet for thousands of students. But for months, district officials haven’t be able to answer these questions with certainty:

How many kids actually need the technology? And does it work well enough to meet remote learning demands?

They’re questions central to conducting school online and closing digital access and learning gaps, especially for Seattle, whose schools appear to be staying remote for the foreseeable future.

But after school buildings closed last spring, Seattle and other districts didn’t take complete stock of how many students needed devices and internet, instead relying on student poverty rates and drawing estimates from surveys. As a result, data on technology access for students during the pandemic has been spotty.

About 4,000 of SPS’ over 50,000 students haven’t been engaging regularly with online learning this fall, half of whom the district suspects are having issues with devices or connectivity, according to district spokesperson Tim Robinson.

In some cases, the lack of firm information has made estimating the appropriate response to the problem harder and more time-consuming, especially when it comes to internet connectivity. And the main solution offered by school districts — discounted or free plans offered by internet service providers — sometimes results in internet access too slow to handle multiple kids learning online at the same time, according to industry guidelines.

The most comprehensive statewide effort to get clarity on student tech needs — voluntary state surveys of school districts in May and August — only requested estimates. Based on the answers it received, the state education department projects that between 81% to 89% of Washington state students had adequate technology and connectivity for remote learning.

“Some districts did a good job of collecting data and provided some reasonable