Vaxcomm – The Vaccine Freedom to Operate (FTO) Commons

Our Focus

mRNA technology applied to infectious disease, treatments, cancers,

global public health and pandemic preparedness.

mRNA vaccines. 60 years of research and development

Since the discovery of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) in 1961, scientists have learned how to use mRNA to develop a new category of medicines which have recently been proven to be transformative for preventing infection and disease in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more: Bok et al., Accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development: milestones, lessons, and prospects, Immunity (2021),   Download PDF.  Summary. The development of effective vaccines to combat infectious diseases is a complex multi-year and multi-stakeholder process. To accelerate the development of vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel pathogen emerging in late 2019 and spreading globally by early 2020, the United States government (USG) mounted an operation bridging public and private sector expertise and infrastructure. The success of the endeavor can be seen in the rapid advanced development of multiple vaccine candidates, with several demonstrating efficacy and now being administered around the globe. Here, we review the milestones enabling the USG-led effort, the methods utilized, and ensuing outcomes. We discuss the current status of COVID-19 vaccine development and provide a perspective for how partnership and preparedness can be better utilized in response to future public-health pandemic emergencies… a particular advantage of the mRNA platform is the rapidity with which candidate vaccines can be designed and produced. The synthetic chemical nature of mRNA vaccines and their lipid nanoparticle components circumvent the need to make a biological product grown in cell culture, thus simplifying production and shortening the time to the clinic (Pardi et al., 2018).

The history timeline below adapted from Bok et al.

Historic Timeline of mRNA Vaccine Discovery,
Research and Development

Click on years to learn more

Vaxcomm is a Global Public Health Commons
with Open Participation and Membership Opportunities
for Scientists, R&D Organizations and Industry

The mission of Vaxcomm is:

To deliver advanced Vaccine Technology Commons for benefit of Global Public Health and members

To deliver transformative mRNA technology opportunities with shared knowledge and commons licensed intellectual property (IP) according to community managed rules

To advance mRNA vaccine technology for the benefit of Vaxcomm members and global public health

The governance of natural resources used by many individuals in common is an issue of increasing concern to policy analysts. Both state control and privatization of resources have been implemented, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. Global public health and pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 vaccine inequity are compelling recent examples of failure in the system. However, common pool problems can be solved by voluntary commons organization.

Vaxcomm is a community managed Commons for Distribution Rules, Membership Rules, and Open IP licensing Rules, to the benefit of members and IP owners and global public health.

The Transformation of mRNA Vaccines from Bench to Bedside

mRNA instructs the body to produce proteins which can treat or prevent disease or infections. mRNA medicines are mRNA molecules that are packaged (encapsulated) in lipid nanoparticles and delivered directly into cells to make proteins to treat or prevent disease or infections by pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 and emerging “Variants of Concern”

In one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of our generation, mRNA technology has demonstrated the ability to change the timeline for developing and delivering a new vaccine from years to months. And the entire world was witness to that demonstration. The development of an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19 took just 63 days from release of the virus sequence to first dosing in humans, leading to accelerated clinical trials and ultimately billions of doses manufactured. The new mRNA vaccines have demonstrated efficacies in the high 90s, with minimal side effects, and have been manufactured by two different RNA technology firms to date, with others adding further production capacity.

The scale of this on-going achievement was made possible because, unlike the established existing vaccine manufacturing techniques, RNA technology shifts the most difficult and complex parts of manufacturing — the key proteins needed for a vaccine — to the natural bioreactor that is the human body. This shift meant the mRNA vaccine could deliver the instructions for how to make the antigen, or spike protein, needed to train our immune systems rather than the antigen itself. The development of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) ensured that instructions would arrive intact to our cells – a critical element of the mRNA vaccine delivery and effectiveness. Importantly, this RNA-based approach holds promise for treatments beyond vaccines and infectious diseases to diverse biologics as treatments for cancer, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular conditions, and autoimmune diseases.

Given this vaccine breakthrough, it would be reasonable to expect a wave of activity to discover, develop, and deliver new RNA-based biologics – a diversity of organizations; academic, small biotech, private and public research centers around the world flooding clinical facilities with novel, investigational products. All these products could then be tested against diseases that cause millions of deaths per year; thus providing access to these new products, while also securing protection against the next pandemic.

The Global Public Health Commons

All of us have a common shared responsibility and interest in global public health,
preparedness and prevention of pandemics and infectious diseases.
The fact is, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

The Vaxcomm Freedom to Operate (FTO) Commons

The Vaxcomm FTO Open Commons for mRNA Vaccines:

  • The Intellectual Property (IP) mRNA vaccine commons.
  • The comprehensive IP landscape for mRNA vaccine innovation.
  • The comprehensive Freedom To Operate reference documentation.
  • The solution to the continuous need to assure Freedom To Operate.
  • Extremely important for vaccine innovation in Global Public Health.
  • Available to all Vaxcomm members for mRNA vaccine innovation.
  • Includes The Vaxcomm Commons License and open data repository to support Freedom To Operate goals.
  • May be “white-label” branded as: “your company name-FTO” (with Vaxcomm open source copyright attribution)
  • Includes Examples of legal FTO Opinions based on The Vaxcomm Commons License.
  • The FTO Landscape is a data service only. Vaxcomm license is an optional license based on collective rules of Vaccomm and optional member licensing.
  • Does not include legal “FTO Opinion” or legal assurance (must be procured independently)
  • Governed by the collective rules of Vaxcomm – The Vaccine Commons.

The Commons

“Commons” is a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest.

Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University, received the Nobel Prize (2009) for her research proving the importance of the commons around the world. Her work investigating how communities co-operate to share resources drives to the heart of debates today about resource use, the public sphere and the future of the planet. In 2009, Ostrom became the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance”, saying her work had demonstrated how common property could be successfully managed by groups using it.

Elinor Ostrom shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for her lifetime of scholarly work investigating how communities succeed or fail at managing common pool (finite) resources such as grazing land, forests and irrigation waters. Ostrom documented effective examples of “governing the commons” in her research in Kenya, Guatemala, Nepal, Turkey, and Los Angeles.



Vaxcomm. Transformative Opportunities with Shared Knowledge

Communities share common principles to successfully manage their commons…

In the seminal work – Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action – Ostrom developed 8 principles for how commons can be governed sustainably and equitably in a community.


8 Principles for Managing a Commons:

  1. Define clear group boundaries.
  2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.
  3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.
  4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.
  5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.
  6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.
  7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.
  8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

Vaxcomm plans to deliver on the 8 Principles for Managing a Commons for Global Public Health with mRNA Vaccine Technology.