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Moderna sues Pfizer over patents behind COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna is suing Pfizer and German drugmaker BioNTech, accusing their main competitors of copying Moderna’s technology to make their own vaccine.

Moderna said Friday that Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine infringes on patents that Moderna filed several years ago to protect the technology behind its preventive injection, Spikevax. The company filed patent infringement lawsuits in both a US federal court and a German court.

A Pfizer spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the company had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

Two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use mRNA technology to help patients fight the coronavirus.

mRNA vaccines work by injecting genetic code for the spike protein that coats the surface of the coronavirus. That code, the mRNA, is encased in a little ball of fat and instructs the body’s cells to make a few copies of harmless spikes that train the immune system to recognize the real virus.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a prepared statement that the vaccine’s developer pioneered that technology and invested billions of dollars in its creation.

The company said it believes its rivals’ vaccine infringes on patents that Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016.

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