One of the leading narratives in the ongoing race for a COVID-19 vaccine is the competition between Moderna and Astrazeneca to first produce a workable vaccine. Recently, U.S. Patent Publication No. 2020/0282046 for a Betacoronavirus mRNA vaccine published for Moderna. While COVID-19 is classified as a betacoronavirus, it is worth noting that the specification never specifically identifies COVID-19. In fact, much of the specification and the initial set of filed claims (of which there were 135) are focused on vaccines for viral diseases other than those caused by coronaviruses, including Measles and Human Metapneumoviruses.
Moderna has received a first non-final rejection for their application, which states that the application fails to enable Moderna's claim to "A method comprising administering to a subject a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) comprising an open reading frame encoding a betacoronavirus (BetaCoV) S protein or S protein subunit formulated in a lipid nanoparticle in an effective amount to induce in the subject an immune response to the BetaCoV S protein or S protein subunit." While Moderna has argued that the application includes support showing an effective response to treatment both in vitro and in vivo for a vaccine for MERS (a species of coronavirus), it remains to be seen whether Moderna may quickly win the race to a patent for a coronavirus vaccine with this application or if they have additional applications that have yet to be published.
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