Nobel Prize winning mRNA was publicly funded

Nobel Prize winning mRNA was publicly funded

Release date: 2 October 2023

Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Policy Co-Lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“This award challenges the claim that it was solely big pharmaceutical companies who saved the world from COVID-19. Just like the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Karikó and Weissman’s groundbreaking work on mRNA vaccines received a huge amount of public funding.

“Pharmaceutical companies have refused to share mRNA technologies with developers and researchers in developing countries. Fortunately, Weissman is helping a WHO-backed mRNA programme which aims to develop mRNA technology in lower-income countries, even while pharmaceutical companies refuse to share their know-how.

“As governments discuss how to prepare for the next pandemic, they should learn from the story of mRNA. Public funding delivers incredible medical advances and that should be a priority for all countries, but pharmaceutical companies cannot be trusted to share technology with the world.”


Notes to editors

Luis Gil Abinader of Knowledge Ecology International has summarised the public funding received by Karikó and Weissman:

The US government invested at least $31.9bn to develop, produce, and purchase mRNA covid-19 vaccines, including sizeable investments in the three decades before the pandemic through March 2022:

Drew Weissman is on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the mRNA Technology Transfer Programme (previously known as the mRNA Hub), which is supported by the World Health Organization and the Medicines Patent Pool:

Public and charitable financing accounted for 97%–99% of the vaccine technology research at the University of Oxford underlying the Oxford–AstraZeneca:

Media contact

Joe Karp-Sawey, Senior Media Advisor, People’s Vaccine Alliance

Email: [email protected]