India and South Africa lose provide to ban COVID vaccine patents enterprise | Financial and monetary information from a German perspective DW
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday rejected a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily suspend intellectual property (IP) rules related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, which would have allowed drug makers in poor countries to continue manufacturing more effective products to start vaccines earlier.
The two countries had turned to the global trade organization in October asking it to renounce parts of the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS Agreement). The suspension of rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyrights and the protection of undisclosed information would ensure “timely access to affordable medical devices, including vaccines and drugs, or an expansion of research, development, manufacture and supply of medical devices necessary to combat COVID essential are -19 “, they said.
The proposal was vehemently opposed by wealthy nations such as the US and UK, as well as the European Union, who said a ban would stifle innovation by drug companies by removing the incentive to make huge investments in research and development. This would be especially counter-productive during the current pandemic, where drug makers have to stay on their toes to deal with a mutating virus.
The WTO’s decision comes from criticizing some wealthy countries for cornering billions of COVID shots – many times their population – while poor countries struggle for supplies. Experts say the global search for vaccines or vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic.
“We need to recognize that this virus knows no borders, moves around the globe and the response to it should be global. It should be based on international solidarity,” said Ellen ‘t Hoen, director of Medicines Law & Policy – a nonprofit Campaign for better access to medicines.
“Many of the major vaccine manufacturers are based in developing countries. All existing production capacities should be used … and this requires the sharing of know-how and technology with those who have it in their hands,” she told DW.
Not enough production capacity
Proponents of the exemption, which includes dozens of developing and least developed countries as well as NGOs, said the WTO’s IP rules are an obstacle to an urgent expansion of the production of vaccines and other much-needed medical devices in poor countries.
Those who criticize India and South Africa’s proposal argue that the suspension of patents would not address the production and shortage problems that are currently plaguing vaccination campaigns worldwide.
“Calls for disclosure of patent information related to vaccines would not add a single dose to supply in the short term because they overlook the complexities of vaccine manufacture and ignore the extent to which vaccine manufacturers, drug companies and developing countries are already working together to do it.” Increase vaccination capacities, “said Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) to DW.
“The euphoria about developing high-potency vaccines has somehow created the impression that once a vaccine has been developed, a billion doses can roll out of factories at the push of a button. I think we need to be aware of how complex they are and how vaccines are made difficult, “he says.
The WTO General Council agreed that a fair distribution of vaccines and pharmaceuticals must urgently be guaranteed and that no consensus could be reached on a waiver even at a rapid pace.
The pharmaceutical industry said it had seen unprecedented collaboration between companies, including competitors, to provide safe and quick access to vaccines for people around the world. They refer to AstraZeneca’s contract with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Indian Serum Institute, and Johnson & Johnson, which has teamed up with Aspen Pharmacare of South Africa to manufacture the vaccine that has yet to be approved. In addition, the German company Bayer has signed up to manufacture the German mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine CureVac from CureVac, and Sanofi has agreed to support rival Pfizer in the manufacture of its vaccine developed by BioNtech.
There is also the WHO-supported COVID-19 Facility for Global Access to Vaccines (COVAX), which is funded by donations to ensure fair worldwide access to coronavirus vaccines. The facility plans to distribute 2 billion cans by the end of 2021 but is struggling to gain traction.