Moderna declined China efforts to hand over mRNA COVID vaccine technology

Oct. 03, 2022 5:13 AM ETModerna, Inc. (MRNA), PFE, BNTXBy: Ravikash, SA News Editor45 Comments

Modern, Inc.

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Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) declined to transfer the core intellectual property (IP) of its mRNA COVID vaccine to China, causing a fallout in discussions on the sale of vaccine there, Financial Times reported on Oct. 1 citing people familiar with the matter.

Moderna refused to hand over the IP vaccine due to commercial and safety concerns, said two people involved in discussions which took place between 2020 and 2021, the report added.

China is yet to approve any mRNA COVID-19 for use in the country and relies mostly on inactivated vaccines. The first China-made mRNA COVID vaccine recently got an approval not in its home country but in Indonesia.

The Financial Times report added that a person near to the Moderna team in Greater China said the company had "given up" on its prior endeavors to enter the Chinese market, due to China's demand that it hand over the technology as a prerequisite for selling in the Asian country.

Earlier in September, a Reuters report noted that, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said that the company had discussed with the Chinese government about providing COVID-19 vaccines, but no decision had been reached.

Financial Times report added that Beijing has followed two approaches to allow foreign COVID vaccine distribution in China — the companies need to either undertake a full technology transfer to a domestic drugmaker or set up a manufacturing facility in China with a local partner, while keeping control of the main technology. Moderna was pressed to take the transfer technology option, the report noted.

BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) had entered an agreement with Chinese partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to conduct trial and then sell the vaccine, which meant retaining control of the IP. Under the contract, Fosun agreed to provide a factory which would manufacture up to 1B doses a year, the Financial Times noted.

However, according to a prior Bloomberg News report, the regulatory path is not clear despite filing from Chinese partner Fosun.

U.S. mRNA vaccine makers, Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), were the first to get approval for this type of vaccine in the U.S. and EU.

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