Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel.
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images
  • The Biden administration said on Wednesday it supported IP waivers for Covid-19 vaccines.
  • But Moderna's CEO said on Thursday he doesn't believe the move would hurt the company.
  • Stéphane Bancel said it would take a long time for other companies to recreate Moderna's vaccine.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The CEO of Moderna said he "didn't lose a minute of sleep" following the US decision to back waiving intellectual-property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.

Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are currently discussing a waiver, which if approved would leave countries free to recreate several vaccines from around the world without fear of sanctions.

President Joe Biden's administration said on Wednesday it supported the move, meaning vaccines from US-based firms such as Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson could be replicated.

Pharmaceutical companies usually guard their intellectual property closely, but Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said on Thursday the move wouldn't affect the company's bottom line.

"I didn't lose a minute of sleep over the news during the night," Bancel said during Moderna's first-quarter earnings statement, Fierce Pharma reported.

Such a move "doesn't change anything for Moderna", he said.

Protocol files for Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations seen at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020.
Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

During the announcement, Bancel said the global capacity to produce mRNA vaccines - a new type of vaccine popularised by Moderna and Pfizer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic - was at its limit anyway.

"There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world," Bancel said. "This is a new technology."

"You cannot go hire people who know how to make mRNA. Those people don't exist," he said.

Moderna has long been open to sharing its success, announcing on October 8 that it would not enforce its patent rights "while the pandemic continues".

"We are also willing to license our intellectual property for Covid-19 vaccines to others for the post-pandemic period," the company said.

Bancel said after the earnings call that it would take a long time for other companies to start up production of Moderna's vaccine, Reuters reported.

"They will have to go run a clinical trial, get the data, get the product approved and scale manufacturing. This does not happen in six or 12 or 18 months," Bancel said.

Spain on Friday said it supported the US proposal to waive the IP rights. However, other stakeholders have objected to the idea.

Germany said on Thursday that it could not support a waiver, with a government spokeswoman telling Reuters "the protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future".

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, also told Agence France-Presse on Thursday that he was "not at all" in favour of an IP waiver.

On Wednesday, Moderna's stock dipped following the US announcement, but Matthew Harrison, an equity research analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note published on Thursday that Moderna will face little financial impact if a waiver is passed, as Insider's Carla Mozée reported on Thursday.

Harrison also said the WTO doesn't have a way to to force Moderna to teach others how to make its vaccine, per Markets Insider.

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