GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) and thirty-seven countries have developed an alliance calling for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic.
The move by mostly developing nations, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders. The effort aims at patent laws that could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies.
Many developing and some small nations fear richer countries pumping resources into finding vaccines will get to the front of the queue. There are more than 100 potential candidates for the new coronavirus including six approved by the WHO.
“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” said Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado.
The effort was originally proposed in March and aims to provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property amid the pandemic.
The WHO issued a ‘Solidarity Call to Action’ and asked other stakeholders to join the voluntary push. “WHO recognises the important role that patents play in fuelling innovation but this is a time when people must take priority,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations raised concerns about undermining intellectual property protections, and said that collaboration is needed now and after the pandemic is over.
“The Solidarity Call to Action promotes a one-size-fits all model that disregards the specific circumstances of each situation, each product and each country,” the federation said.