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After receiving patent waivers, shares of Covid vaccine makers surge

After receiving patent waivers, shares of Covid vaccine makers surge

May 10, 2021: – Shares of two Covid vaccine makers seesawed after the Biden administration announced it would back a motion before the World Trade Organization to waive mRNA technology patent protections used in vaccine making.

On Thursday, Pfizer came down by 5% from Wednesday’s close, while Moderna dipped by nearly 12% before both stocks recovered the losses. The companies use the same mRNA technology to make their doses.

South Africa and India are pressing U.S. officials and the WTO to temporarily waive patent protections so developing countries can produce lifesaving vaccines until world leaders can get the pandemic under control.

Human rights organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and Amnesty International have signed on to the letter supporting the proposal. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday evening backing the waiver.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” she said. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”

President Joe Biden made a campaign promise last year to “absolutely, positively” waive vaccine patents. Waiving the patent protections could take months or even years.

“We believe any new manufacturing operation could take 6 to 9 months to scale, effectively limiting the impact of other producers. Thus, while we expect pressure on mRNA from the headlines, we do not see significant practical implications from this news,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a research note on Thursday.

They also note that “U.S. support is not the same as approval where WTO decisions require consensus, and other members such as the E.U., U.K., Japan, and Switzerland currently oppose waiving I.P.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna already have plans in motion to produce billions of doses in the meantime, essentially leaving any competitors far behind in the manufacturing process.

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