False Claims Tie Patents to COVID-19 Vaccines | Ap


CLAIM: People who have received COVID-19 vaccines are now legally patented and no longer have human rights. Indeed, a 2013 United States Supreme Court decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. said that if a human genome is altered by mRNA vaccines, the genome can be patented.

FACTS: An Instagram post circulating online falsely claims that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines alter DNA, allowing humans to be patented and have their rights withdrawn. But COVID-19 vaccines, including those made by Pfizer and Moderna that rely on mRNA technology, do not change a person’s genetic makeup.

The bogus post quotes the 2013 US Supreme Court ruling in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. to substantiate its claim, but the ruling makes no mention of mRNA vaccines. The ruling also does not say that vaccinated humans can be patented. In fact, it’s a long-held rule that anything in nature, including humans, cannot be patented, said Lara Cartwright-Smith, associate professor in the Department of Politics and Management of the health at George Washington University.

The Supreme Court case was about whether Myriad Genetics, Inc. could patent the sequences of genetic mutations that could lead to breast cancer. The company’s test created a cDNA, which is a clone or copy of DNA, to test for mutations. The Supreme Court ruled that the company could patent synthetically created cDNA because it was unnatural, but could not patent isolated human genes.

“Natural DNA is not patentable,” Cartwright-Smith said. “The copy they made is patentable.” Cartwright-Smith said the online post that quotes the court ruling was absurd. “The conclusion that this would somehow affect the status of the person is also completely wrong,” she said.

– Associated Press editor Beatrice Dupuy in New York contributed to this report.


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