Legal Action

NIH Officials Stand to Earn Millions from Moderna Vaccine

FOIA J&J Janssen Documents

ICAN can now officially confirm that officials within the National Institute of Health (NIH) who are working to develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) stand to personally earn millions of dollars from sales of this vaccine. 

When government officials will profit from the sale of a product, there is cause for concern regarding their licensure and promotion of that product.   

The first vaccine for COVID-19 to begin trials in the United States is mRNA-1273.  This experimental vaccine was developed by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), which is part of the NIH, along with a biotech company, Moderna Inc., the company that will sell this product to the public.

To receive a share of the profit from the sale of mRNA-1273, the inventors of this product within NIAID would submit an Employee Invention Report to the NIH Office of Technology Transfer.  Each inventor stands to receive a personal payment of up to $150k annually from the sales of mRNA-1273.  NIAID also stands to earn millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of mRNA-1273 in addition to what its inventors within NIAID earn personally.

Moderna will pay a license fee to NIAID (or its parent agency) to use its patents related to mRNA-1273 and a portion of those fees are then paid directly to the inventors within NIAID who developed those patents.

There are two patents for which the following six individuals in NIAID appear to be listed as inventors which relate to development of mRNA-1273:   

  • Barney Graham, Deputy Director, NIAID Vaccine Research Center
  • Kizzmekia Shanta Corbett, Scientific Lead, NIAID’s Coronavirus Vaccine Program
  • Michael Gordon Joyce, NIAID
  • Hadi Yassine, NIAID
  • Masaru Kanekiyo, NIAID
  • Olubukola Abiona, NIAID

To confirm these findings, ICAN had its legal team, headed by Aaron Siri, obtain directly from NIH copies of the Employee Invention Reports submitted by NIAID officials with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine.  NIH has now produced those reports which confirm that the above individuals are indeed listed as inventors.  Hence, these individuals within Dr. Fauci’s NIAID, and their heirs, will each potentially earn millions of dollars personally from sales of mRNA-1273 over the next twenty years.  NIAID also stands to earn millions annually from the sale of this vaccine.

Given the potentially significant personal financial interests of individuals within NIAID, it may not be surprising that NIAID used taxpayer dollars to sponsor, assume responsibility for, and perform the first clinical trial of this vaccine.  There is a clear conflict in having NIAID, whose employees stand to potentially earn millions of dollars from this vaccine, overseeing and conducting the clinical trial for mRNA-1273.  This clinical trial information is what NIAID’s sister agency, the FDA, will then rely upon to license the mRNA-1732 for public use.

NIAID’s parent department, HHS, has also awarded $483 million to accelerate development of mRNA-1273, including to “fund the development of mRNA-1273 to FDA licensure and manufacturing process scale-up to enable large-scale production in 2020 [before licensure is granted].”  The U.S. Government has also already reached a $1.5 billion deal to purchase 100 million doses of mRNA-1273.  HHS has even granted those developing and selling this product, including NIAID and Moderna, broad immunity from liability for injuries caused by this product.

Dr. Fauci has been tirelessly promoting the mRNA-1273 vaccine that will potentially make individuals in his agency millionaires and will drive millions more dollars into his agency.  It should not be permissible that the federal department responsible for testing and licensing a product would include individuals who stand to earn millions of dollars from selling that product.  It creates conflicts of interest that can cloud the vision of the most clear-eyed individuals.