Analysis: Pfizer Vaccine Relies on U.S. Government-Developed Spike Protein Technology - Public Citizen
In 2016, National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists working with academic researchers found a new way of freezing coronavirus spike proteins in the right shape. The modified protein helped produce a stronger immune response in mice than the naturally occurring protein for an earlier coronavirus.
Now, most of the leading first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidates – including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – are using this publicly developed technology. The NIH protein showed early superiority in clinical trials, including fewer side effects. The availability of a stabilized spike protein also appears to have accelerated preclinical studies.