FACT CHECK: Did Moderna Admit In 2023 To Starting Development Of COVID-19 Vaccine In January 2020?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims Moderna admitted it started to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in January 2020, before SARS-CoV-2 was officially named.

Verdict: Misleading

Moderna did not “admit” in 2023 that it was developing a COVID-19 vaccine in January 2020. The company issued a statement in January 2020 stating it was developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact Check:

Moderna has considered a large price hike on its COVID-19 vaccines, estimating a cost between $110 to $130 when they are sold on the commercial market, according to The Wall Street Journal. Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders urged the company to reconsider its hikes in a letter sent Jan. 10, CNBC reported.

The Facebook video claims that Moderna’s CEO “admit[ted]” that the company was developing a vaccine in January 2020. The video also went viral on Twitter.

“BREAKING — Moderna CEO Admits On Live Air At Davos They Were Making A COVID-19 Vaccine In January Of 2020 Before SARS-CoV-2 Even Had A Name,” the claim reads.

This claim, though, is misleading. Moderna issued a statement on Jan. 23, 2020 stating that it was manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine. (RELATED: Did The Biden Administration Approve A New Healthcare Card?)

“Under the terms of the agreement, Moderna will manufacture an mRNA vaccine against 2019-nCoV, which will be funded by CEPI. The Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, collaborated with Moderna to design the vaccine. NIAID will conduct IND-enabling studies and a Phase 1 clinical study in the U.S.,” part of the announcement read.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Moderna stated that it and the NIH “finalized the sequence for mRNA-1273, the Company’s vaccine against the novel coronavirus” on Jan. 13. Former NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said in a January 2020 interview with Scientific American that the NIAID was developing a vaccine with Moderna.

“We’re partnering with a company called Moderna to develop a messenger RNA–based platform for a vaccine. We will likely have a candidate in early phase I trials for safety in about three months,” Fauci said at the time.

Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2 did have a name before January 2020. It was known as the 2019 novel coronavirus by the World Health Organization Jan. 20 before it was designated SARS-CoV-2 on Feb. 11th, 2020.

False claims regarding the COVID-19 vaccines have circulated on social media since they were introduced in late 2020. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim suggesting the German government warned investigating vaccines would be “dangerous to democracy.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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