5 winners named for tech innovations to address pandemic 


It’s a privilege to announce the five winners of the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity: COVID-19 category competition. The awards recognize these innovators for their rapid response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through game-changing technologies.

This year’s awards recognize innovators with a pending U.S. patent application or issued U.S. patent focused on inventions that track, prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19. The following winning innovations, which receive acceleration certificates to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO, went through two rounds of judging by experts based on two scoring criteria: the effectiveness of the technology to address COVID-19, and the technology’s ultimate impact.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAID, Rockville, Maryland): NIAID, Scripps Research Institute, and Dartmouth College invented stabilized coronavirus spike proteins, which were essential to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines used today. The vaccines that incorporate these stabilized spike proteins have been instrumental in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The breakthrough came when NIAID scientists and their collaborators engineered coronavirus spike proteins that enables the human immune system to mount effective responses against coronaviruses. This work cleared the path for the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (Tarrytown, New York): Regeneron Pharmaceuticals developed a novel therapy to help treat and prevent COVID-19. The medicine, known as REGEN-COV® in the United States, consists of a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (casirivimab and imdevimab). It was the first to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19.

Regeneron scientists developed the therapy for clinical trial use in five months and received the EUA in 10 months, moving from lab to patient in record time.

University of South Florida (USF, Tampa, Florida): USF developed 3D-printed nasal swabs for when nasal swabs used in COVID tests were in short supply at the height of the pandemic. The USF Health Department of Radiology team and colleagues from the USF Health Department of Internal Medicine Infectious Diseases worked with Northwell Health, New York’s leading health care provider, to create the initial design and prototype for a 3D-printed nasal swab.

Caron Products (Marietta, Ohio): Caron Products developed a decontamination chamber that was used to disinfect personal protective equipment when it was in short supply during the height of the pandemic. The Caron team developed a decontamination chamber that uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) technology to quickly kill pathogens on porous and non-porous surfaces, including PPDs.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (Foster City, California): Gilead developed a widely effective antiviral medication used to treat COVID-19 known as remdesivir, one of the earliest COVID therapeutics.

Administered via injection, remdesivir works by blocking SARS-CoV-2 from reproducing in the body. It has been shown in clinical trials to help those with COVID-19 recover faster and reduce disease progression.

We hope these success stories serve as inspiration for more individuals to harness innovation for human progress, and in doing so, change the world for the better.

Kathi Vidal is under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO.