To all those who wonder what to think about the famous “Coronarvirus patent” owned by he institute Pasteur on Coronavirus ?
In recent hours, I have been contacted many times by people asking me how to read the now famous patent EP 1694829 B1. So, I took the time to read it to answer some questions.
First of all, this patent (https://register.epo.org/application?number=EP04805625&lng=en&tab=main) does exists, this is therefore not fake news. It was filed in December 2004, granted in 2010 and owned by the Institut Pasteur, Centre national de la recherche scientifique et Université Paris VII.
The patent relates actually to the sequencing of an existing coronavirus strain identified in a patient in Hanoi (Vietnam). The inventors of this patent identified that this coronavirus was a variant of known coronavirus strains, bearing mutations here and there (most likely naturally occurring mutations we all face in our humble human body).
Microbiological inventions are patentable. It is possible to obtain a patent for an isolated strain of any bacteria or virus (because its purification, concentration and culture results from human intervention). It is also possible to obtain a patent for a genetic sequence provided the sequence is shared in the patent and that there is a requirement to further identify clearly the industrial applicability of the invention.
Whats is claimed in the famous Institut Pasteur’s patent doing the buzz on the social media ? The isolated strain as well as genetic sequences of this existing coronavirus strain identified in a patient in Hanoi (actually SARS CoV1, responsible of the previous SARS epidemic in 2003), but also tool for diagnosis of this coronavirus strain and the development of a vaccine based on an recombinant strain of measles virus or vaccinia (cowpox) virus. Those two viruses are well known and regularly used to develop new vaccine. The title of this patent “NOVEL Strain of SARS-associated Coronavirus and applications thereof” is certainly misleading as the strain was not created by genetic manipulation performed in laboratory while the vaccine does, but simply isolated from a patient and studied, sequenced and further used for developing vaccine and diagnosis tools. In addition, when one speaks about NOVEL strain SARS-associated Coronavirus, it means that the coronavirus induces Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (symptoms), i.e. atypical pneumoniae.
Let me be clear, the invention was not the coronavirus strain as such, but the fact it has been identified, sequenced and used to build diagnosis tools and vaccine.
Further, the SARS CoV1 strain, subject matter of the Institut Pasteur patent is not the same as the pandemic CoVid19 strain impacting the entire world today.
While the developed vaccine against SARS CoV1 can be used as a basis to develop a further new vaccine against CoVid19, there are today numerous research teams from different public and private research centres from all over the world working hard to find a good response to CoVid19 dramatic pandemic situation. As a defender of research, innovation, patent attorney and former academic researcher, I am grateful towards those people working hard and exposing themselves to pathologic microorganism in their day-to-day research activities in order to improve our life and health.