COVID news: Modern sues Pfizer-BioNTech, Paxlovid study, Fauci retires – USA TODAY

Moderna is suing fellow vaccine developers Pfizer and German partner BioNTech for infringing on patents related to mRNA technology used in their COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced Friday.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts, company claims Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, Comirnaty, infringes on patents it filed between 2010 and 2016, according to a Moderna news release.
“We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission,” said Moderna chief legal officer Shannon Thyme Klinger.
Moderna alleges Pfizer and BioNtech copied two key features of the company’s patented technologies, which they say are “critical to the success of mRNA vaccines.”
Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts said the companies were “surprised by the litigation” and plan to “vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit.” Their COVID-19 vaccine, she said, was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology.
Also in the news:
► First lady Jill Biden tested positive again for COVID-19, the White House announced Wednesday – just one day after she tested negative. President Joe Biden continues to test negative. 
► Pfizer and German partner BioNTech have submitted their new COVID-19 booster – that targets the omicron subvariant BA.5 – to the FDA for emergency use authorization, the companies announced Monday. 
► Novak Djokovic will not play in the U.S. Open, as expected, because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and thus is not allowed to travel to the United States.
► The U.S. government is suspending 26 flights by Chinese airlines from the United States to China in a dispute over anti-virus controls after Beijing suspended flights by American carriers.
📘What we’re reading: COVID-19 vaccination rates among kids under 5 remain low as US hospital admissions continue to steadily rise. Read more here. 
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Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, appears to provide little or no benefit for certain adults, while still reducing the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk seniors, according to a large study published Wednesday.
The results from a 109,000-patient Israeli study are likely to renew questions about the U.S. government’s use of Paxlovid, which has become the go-to treatment for COVID-19 due to its at-home convenience. The Biden administration has spent more than $10 billion purchasing the drug and making it available at thousands of pharmacies through its test-and-treat initiative.
The researchers found that Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations among people 65 and older by roughly 75% when given shortly after infection. But people between the ages of 40 and 65 saw no measurable benefit, according to the analysis of medical records.
A spokesman for Pfizer declined to comment on the results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
While Dr. Anthony Fauci, who became both a reassuring and politically polarizing voice during the pandemic, is retiring from public service in December, he’s still got a lot to share. 
In a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease says the world might be opening up again, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is behind us. 
“I think that when you talk about new normal, you have to focus predominantly on COVID,” Fauci said. “We have the emergence of infectious diseases more often than people realize. Many of them are relatively insignificant at a global level.” 
Fauci has spent his career studying emerging viruses and guiding America’s response to health crises like the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and West Nile Virus. 
“Could we actually eradicate SARS COV-2, the cause of COVID? I can tell you categorically, the answer to that is going to be no,” says Fauci. “We’ve only eradicated from the face of the earth one significant pathogen and that’s smallpox.” 
Fauci says America’s best protection against COVID-19 is mass vaccination. 
– Becky Kellogg, USA TODAY
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was 73% effective in protecting children younger than 5 as omicron spread in the spring, the company announced Tuesday.
Vaccinations for babies, toddlers and preschoolers opened in the U.S. in June after months of delay. Health authorities authorized tot-sized vaccine doses made by Pfizer and BioNTech based on a study showing they were safe and produced high levels of virus-fighting antibodies. But there was only preliminary data on how that translated into effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19.
The new study analyzed COVID-19 diagnoses between March and June in Pfizer’s ongoing study of the three-dose vaccine. There were 21 COVID-19 cases among the 351 tots who got dummy shots — compared to just 13 among the 794 youngsters given three vaccine doses.
The child cases primarily were caused by the BA.2 omicron version that was circulating in. Today, another omicron relative, BA.5, is causing most COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and much of the world.
Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. 
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.


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