Governments must support proposal to drop Coronavirus’s Covid-19 patents

GENEVA – Before the World Trade Organization (WTO) he talks about an important request to relinquish certain intellectual property (IP) during the COVID-19 pandemic – which was presented by India and South Africa in October – calls on all medical governments to change this step. The IP waiver will enable all countries to grant or enforce patents and other IPs related to COVID-19 medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies during the pandemic, until herd immunity is achieved worldwide.

This step begins 20 years back after the HIV / Aids epidemic, when affordable generic HIV medicines were made in countries where patents did not hinder production, started saving millions of lives.

“Not even a global pandemic can prevent pharmaceutical companies from following their use-as-usual approach, so countries must use all available tools to ensure that COVID-19 medical products are accessible and affordable to all who need them,” “the dr. Sidney Wong, executive co-director of MSF’s access campaign. “All COVID-19 health instruments and technologies must be global public goods, free from the barriers posed by patents and other intellectual property.”

“We call on all governments to urgently seek their support behind this groundbreaking proposal that puts human lives on corporate profits at this critical moment for global health,” Dr Wong said.

With more than 1.3 million lives lost to COVID-19, governments can no longer waste time waiting for voluntary moves by the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Khosi Mavuso, MSF Medical Representative in South Africa

Since the beginning of the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies have maintained their standard practice of rigid control over intellectual property rights, while pursuing secret and monopolistic commercial transactions that exclude many middle- and low-income countries. Gilead, for example, has entered into restrictive bilateral licensing for one of the only drugs that has shown potential benefits for the treatment of COVID-19, bradesivir, with the exception that almost half the world population benefits from price-lowering generic competition.

In addition, several new drugs and monoclonal antibodies reused as promising treatments for COVID-19 have already been patented in many middle-income countries, such as Brazil, South Africa, India, Indonesia, China and Malaysia. With the exception of one company, none of the COVID-19 vaccine developers have committed to treating IP differently from the status quo.

While some companies have taken steps through licensing and technology transfer contracts to use existing global manufacturing capabilities to try to mitigate the expected shortage of potentially successful vaccines, this was the exception, and licensing transactions often have clear limitations.

Historically, steps have been taken to overcome monopolies that allow pharmaceutical companies to keep prices artificially high. In 2001, at the height of the HIV / Aids epidemic, the ‘Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health’ reaffirmed the rights of all to take all necessary measures to eliminate patents and other IP barriers, which governments in place the driver’s seat so they can prioritize. public health on corporate interests. This current waiver request to the WTO is a similar step to accelerate the response to COVID-19.

“This daring step by governments offers the world the opportunity to repeat the tragedy of the HIV / Aids epidemic 20 years ago, when monopolies on life-saving treatment gave people in high-income countries access to HIV medicine, while millions in developing countries left to die, ‘says Dr Khosi Mavuso, MSF’s medical representative in South Africa. “The dominance of monopolies on COVID-19 medical tools will enable global collaboration to scale up manufacturing, supply and access for all.”

“With more than 1.3 million lives already lost to COVID-19, governments can no longer waste time waiting for voluntary moves by the pharmaceutical industry,” said Dr. Mavuso said.

At the WTO meeting of the TRIPS Council (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) on 15 and 16 October, Kenya and Eswatini joined India and South Africa to officially sponsor the waiver. A total of 99 countries welcomed and showed overall support. But the waiver proposal is not supported by several affluent countries, including the US, UK, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union.

“Governments need to ask themselves which side of history they want to be on when writing the books on this pandemic,” Wong said.

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