Shares for Pfizer, Moderna and BioNTech Plunged After US Says It Wants to Waive Patent Protections for the Vaccine

Row Covid-19 or Coronavirus vaccine flasks on white background. / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shares for Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna plunged on Wednesday after news that the U.S. is in favor of waiving patent protection for the vaccine.

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In discussions with the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that the U.S. will advocate for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patent protections, Yahoo Finance reports. The measure is intended to increase vaccinations worldwide and improve vaccine access.

Tai said in a statement that the Biden administration” believes strongly in intellectual property projections but in service of ending this pandemic supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”

She added, “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 call for extraordinary measures.”

Waiving this patent protection would allow other companies to replicate the vaccine. In short, more vaccines could be available worldwide faster.

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After the news, Moderna fell 6.2%, BioNTech and Novavax fell 3.5% and 4.9% respectively and Johnson and Johnson fell .4%. Pfizer rose briefly but opened Thursday down about 1%.

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All 164 countries of the World Trade Organization would need to be in favor for the protections to be waived, but other countries are thought to follow after Tai’s announcement.

If protections are waived, this could cause implications for pandemics and other crises in the future. Should, for example, another virus hit, companies might hesitate to apply for patents in the U.S., and instead register information elsewhere. Moderna and BioNTech are the first companies to ever receive authorization for mRNA vaccine use. Should the benefit of creating a technology first, and the profit that accompanies it, not exist then the question remains of how intellectual property will be valued and compensated in the future.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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