Johannesburg, 1 July 2020 – In a communique issued following the ‘Africa’s Management Function in COVID-19 Vaccine Growth and Entry’ convention of the African Union (AU), African well being ministers took a vital step to state their concern that patents and different expertise limitations might negatively affect the flexibility to make sure entry of future potential COVID-19 vaccines in creating nations. This acknowledgement stands in stark distinction to the misperception generally expressed by pharmaceutical companies and a few public well being actors that mental property doesn’t play a significant function in limiting entry to vaccines. Not solely does the AU make this necessary level, nevertheless it additionally emphasises that governments ought to urgently make use of authorized and coverage choices to get rid of mental property limitations, as wanted, within the curiosity of public well being.
Previous expertise—together with with the pneumococcal vaccine and human papillomavirus vaccine—has proven that patents and knowhow can have an effect on each step of vaccine improvement, and monopolies can hinder well timed introduction of inexpensive vaccines in creating nations. Adequate and well timed provide of any COVID-19 vaccine would require a broad producer base, which have to be supported by opening entry to all mandatory expertise, mental property and information with full rights to make use of, manufacture and provide globally. To attain this, nations ought to make full use of authorized and coverage measures, because the AU stresses. Pharmaceutical companies with important vaccine applied sciences ought to make these publicly obtainable, and COVID-19 vaccine builders ought to overtly share their information, knowhow and expertise to facilitate fast scale-up on the world degree.
The operative language within the AU communique reads as follows:
“RECOGNISE the limitations that mental property, together with patents, commerce secrets and techniques and different technological knowhow has posed to well timed introduction of inexpensive vaccines in creating nations prior to now.
ACKNOWLEDGE this expertise, noting that there’s an pressing want for nations to make full use of authorized and coverage measures, together with flexibilities enshrined underneath the Settlement on Commerce-Associated Elements of Mental Property Rights (TRIPS) and Doha Declaration, South-South and North-South collaboration to make sure monopolies don’t stand in the best way of entry to COVID-19 vaccines.
ALSO CALLS UPON, and consistent with the suggestions of the 73rd World Well being Meeting decision on the COVID-19 response, for all nations to take away all obstacles, together with, however not restricted to, using the flexibilities offered within the TRIPS settlement, to make sure that all related applied sciences, mental property, information and knowhow are overtly and instantly made obtainable and the fast scale-up of geographically various manufacturing to be made doable.”
Quote by Candice Sehoma, Entry Marketing campaign Advocacy Officer, MSF in South Africa:
“This can be very encouraging to see African leaders state so clearly that they know the affect patents and different types of mental property might have on entry to a possible future COVID-19 vaccine of their nations. We’re enthusiastic concerning the management demonstrated on this communique, not least the management that Africa CDC has proven in driving an African response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For too lengthy, there was an outright denial of the truth that patents and different mental property hinder entry to newer vaccines in creating nations. There’s ongoing denial and ambiguity by a number of world well being actors and trade round coverage plans and messages with regard to mental property and expertise switch and their affect on guaranteeing entry to a COVID-19 vaccine. Few guarantees have been made to this point to make sure the total switch of applied sciences for vaccine manufacturing in creating nations and concrete measures are but to be put in place to take away mental property limitations.
Previous expertise has proven that patents can have a severe destructive affect on the worth and provide of newer vaccines for resource-limited nations, together with in Africa, by limiting market entry for vaccine producers in creating nations and delaying entry. We will’t let historical past repeat itself and observe down the identical path the place we fake patents aren’t an issue and as a substitute overpay particular pharmaceutical companies for costly vaccines. The world actually can’t afford any delays which might be attributable to unjustified personal management of any future COVID-19 vaccine.
We hope to see African leaders put their very own suggestions into motion, by taking authorized measures to make sure that mental property doesn’t get in the best way of their individuals’s well timed entry to any future COVID-19 vaccine.”
For extra info or for interviews, please contact Elise Erickson at +41 79 886 4601 or Elise.ERICKSON@geneva.msf.org.
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