Biden called on U.S. vaccine producers to be forced to share technology
Many scientists and campaigners who have helped convince Covid to renounce intellectual property in vaccines are calling on the U.S. president to go further and force vaccine authors to hand over their technology.
Scientists and progressive advocates celebrated last week’s decision by the Biden administration to end the rights of companies to enforce IP protections in Covid vaccines. But they say if the administration wants to end the pandemic in the next 12 months, it must convince or force companies to share their knowledge with potential rivals in the developing world.
“The waiver was a huge step, but the transfer of technology should be next,” said Public Citizen researcher Zain Rizvi – one of the groups leading the campaign to reject IP for vaccines. “The president must extend all the authority and power of his position to make that happen.”
Asia Russell, chief executive of Health Gap, one of the global health organizations consulted by the Biden administration in its decision to protect IP refusal, said: “We will not achieve this by asking the pharmacy well. We must force companies to share their technology, we must order.”
World Health Organization last year set up a fund Under the name Covax, the richest countries finance the poor to pay their doses to the poor. But vaccine doses have a scarce supply worldwide, and many wealthy countries initially secured supplies by paying billions of dollars to help their development.
Since the first Covid-19 vaccines were approved at the end of last year, production has increased rapidly in richer countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, but it has been delayed in the poorer. While the US has fully ingested 36% of the population, India, which has been devastated by recent waves of infections, has only inoculated 2.8 per cent.
Scientists say the distribution poses not only a moral problem, but also public health if the virus spreads to places in the world where the virus has not been vaccinated and becomes resistant to vaccines and then spreads to other places.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced last week that the Biden administration would support a move by the World Trade Organization to suspend patent rights on Covid vaccines in the hope that developing world manufacturers would allow them to make copies of their vaccines.
Many experts say, however, that while the WTO’s waiver proposal guarantees the necessary support for each member, production will not rise quickly enough. Instead, companies want to make vaccination instructions available to other companies around the world, even if it reduces their revenue.
They say it is very important to do this with mRNA vaccines, such as those made by BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna, as they can change more quickly to deal with possible variants that are emerging.
Amy Kapczynski, director of Global Health Justice Cooperation at Yale Law School, said: “We need to get as many people in as soon as possible. Many manufacturers are able to sustain production in the medium to long term without technology transfer. But in the short term, technology transfer it is essential “.
Biden said last month, “I think we will be in a position to share vaccines and share knowledge with other countries in real need.”
Since then no agreement has been announced between U.S. vaccine manufacturers and overseas manufacturers, with some calling for more aggressive action by the administration.
One possibility is that the president can use his powers Korean War Defense Production Act take advantage of business technology on behalf of the government and then share it with other countries.
Another is that the government can use its patents to force the hands of those who produce vaccines. Modern, in particular, has used the patent in his vaccine without a license from the National Institutes of Health because he invented this piece of technology.
Barney Graham, one of the NIH scientists behind the patent, he told the Financial Times last month the government gave companies a “lever” to boost global supply.
Alternatively, the administration could create the organization to act as a third broker that negotiates technology transfer agreements on behalf of U.S. manufacturers.
The Clinton Foundation plays this role with HIV drugs, and says it has helped reduce costs 100 times in some parts of the world. The WHO has already launched a set of Covid-19 patents for companies to share their IPs, and experts say that if necessary this could also be a global technology broker.
The White House did not comment, although administration officials said they are focused on expanding and exporting U.S. supplies, rather than helping create manufacturing abroad.
Many worry, however, that this policy will raise prices too high and not have the speed needed to enter the world before more alarming variants appear.
Matthew Kavanagh, an assistant professor of global health at Georgetown University, said: “This has happened before, so there’s no reason for it not to happen again. Companies need to tell the government, ‘Here’s our technology, you get people to achieve that.'”