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Amid concerns over U.S. government Covid-19 contracts and transparency, Moderna (MRNA) has failed to comply with disclosure requirements and publicly report development costs of a vaccine that is being funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Federal law requires the company to report the total cost of the project, and the amount and percentage share of costs provided by the federal government. So far, though, Moderna has not disclosed such details of its contract (see page 43) with BARDA, which has awarded the company up to $955 million to develop a vaccine based on its mRNA technology that would be jointly invented by the National Institutes of Health.

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  • Regardless of what Moderna does or doesn’t disclose, we know that it’s received nearly 1b in Operation Warp Speed money for its mRNA vaccine, yet it announced a price that was substantially higher than what the US is paying Pfizer/BioNTech for their mRNA vaccine, when Pfizer’s received no OWS money. Moderna must be hoping — praying — that the P3 trials show its vaccine to be better.

  • Moderna should comply with the transparency requirements of its BARDA contracts. However, if that contract did not stipulate some pricing limits, then even knowing that information will at best fuel moral suasion. And demonstrate that the US government does not invest wisely — what investor does not condition investment on reasonable benefits to the investor? That $1 billion should entitle the USG to some discount on the final product, since it took a lot of the risk Moderna would have otherwise shouldered itself. A private investor would have insisted on some benefit (i.e., profit) sharing; why shouldn’t the Federal Government?

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