Countries call on drug companies to share vaccine patent information

Countries call on drug companies to share vaccine patent information
Production personnel perform a visual inspection of filled vaccine vials inside the Incepta plant on the outskirts of Dhaka in Bangladesh Saturday Feb. 13, 2021. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: In an industrial neighborhood on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka lies a factory with gleaming new equipment imported from Germany. The factory is operating at just a quarter of its capacity. But companies like this one can’t produce Covid vaccine because they have no patent information of vaccine know-how.

It is one of three factories that The Associated Press (AP) found on three continents whose owners say they could start producing hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines on short notice if only they had the blueprints of the vaccines and technical know-how.

But that knowledge belongs to the large pharmaceutical companies who produce the first three vaccines authorized by countries including the US, the European Union and Britain — Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The factories are all still awaiting responses from the companies.

Across Southeast Asia and Africa, governments and aid groups, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), are calling on pharmaceutical companies to share their patent information more broadly to meet a yawning global shortfall in a pandemic that already has claimed nearly 2.5 million lives.

Pharmaceutical companies that took taxpayer money from the United States or Europe to develop inoculations at unprecedented speed say they are negotiating exclusive licensing deals and contracts with producers on a case-by-case basis because they need to protect their intellectual property and ensure safety.

Critics say this piecemeal approach is just too slow at a time of urgent need to stop the Covid-19 before it mutates into even deadlier forms. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for vaccine manufacturers to share their know-how to “dramatically increase the global supply.”

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