Waiving patents will make winning the fight against the coronavirus even harder.
Brussels 06 May 2021, Speaking about the US administration’s decision to support a proposal to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines, EFPIA Director General Nathalie Moll said. “This short-sighted and ineffectual decision by the Biden administration puts the hard-won progress in fighting this terrible disease in jeopardy. While we wholeheartedly agree with the goal of protecting citizens around the world through vaccines, waiving patents will make winning the fight against the coronavirus even harder.”
She went on to say. “Increasing capacity to deliver doses to citizens around the world requires the skills and technical know-how of the vaccine developer to bring on-board partner manufacturing organizations. You simply cannot achieve this kind of capacity expansion by waiving patents and hoping that hitherto unknown factories around the world will turn their hand to the complex process of vaccine manufacture. A waiver risks diverting raw materials and supplies away from well established, effective supply chains to less efficient manufacturing sites where productivity and quality may be an issue. It opens the door to counterfeit vaccines entering the supply chain around the world. Capacity expansion is only achievable through voluntary, collaborative partnerships between the innovators behind each vaccine and expert manufacturing partners. All our focus should be on removing barriers to collaboration, ensuring the free flow of materials around the world, and continuing the research effort.”
Since the very beginning of the crisis, Europe has been an engine room of COVID-19, research, development, and innovation; from new diagnostics to mRNA technology used in the first approved vaccine. This research-based response has given us the tools to fight the pandemic. A response built on an IP framework that incentivised innovators to explore these new technologies. Recognising the genesis of these vital tools, the European Parliament voted against the waiver on 29 April 2021 and the European Commission has remained consistent in their support for innovation as key to fighting the pandemic.
If approved by the WTO, the waiver would remove any incentive for companies to continue research into new variants, new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines to tackle the coronavirus. And at the same time, it would fail to increase the global capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, removing patents on COVID-19 vaccines would also negate any innovation-based response to future pandemics.
Nathalie Moll concluded by saying. “It is vital that Europe continues to champion medical innovation as the only permanent route out from under the shadow of the coronavirus, through its opposition to the waiver. As a global hub for vaccine manufacture, our focus should remain on creating the partnerships and investing in facilities to increase capacity to meet the needs to citizens across Europe around the world.”