According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 41 countries have still not been able to immunize 10% of their population, while 98 countries have not reached 40% vaccinated, a sharp contrast to the Western countries, where vaccination coverage sometimes reaches 80%.
However, billions of doses of vaccine were produced last year. But the various redistribution mechanisms, such as the COVAX system (less than 10% of doses administered worldwide), set up by the WHO to ensure vaccination in low-income countries, have hardly worked.
However, warned the director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in December, it is in the general interest. By diverting doses away from countries with very low vaccination rates,
indiscriminate recall programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than end ithe warned.
As of the end of 2020, South Africa and India proposed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend intellectual property rights for treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.
Many NGOs and states, and even the United States, have followed suit. In France, President Emmanuel Macron first called for making the vaccine a
global public goodbefore reversing.
The proponents of lifting patents are arguing for a waiver of the WTO agreements on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (or TRIPS), allowing the 20-year monopolies conferred by patents to be suspended.
If this exemption were applied, producers would have to let other manufacturers produce vaccines, without the latter having to pay them rights.
But in more than a year, the discussion has hardly advanced. The subject was back on the agenda of the WTO ministerial conference in November, a meeting postponed due to the Omicron variant.
In general, developing a new drug, from concept to marketing, takes 10 years and requires around one billion euros in investment. Traditionally, the patent is therefore the guarantor of a company’s interest in taking risks.
: we invest because, at the end, we have the certainty of having a patent that allows a return on investment “,” text “:” The central idea is to encourage innovation: we invest because, at the end, we is sure to have a patent that allows a return on investment “}}”>The central idea is to encourage innovation: we invest because, at the end of the day, we have the certainty of having a patent that allows a return on investment.notes Yann Basire, Director General of CEIPI, the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies.
The laboratories also argue that patents are not the most important factor in unequal access to vaccines. Raw materials in tension, technological difficulties are the main points mentioned.
In addition, each vaccine is the result not of a single patent, but of several, as for messenger RNA, with technologies and production techniques also used in fields other than the fight against COVID, and which are owned by organizations other than Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.
If we lift all these patents, it will not only be for vaccines, but it will concern other non-COVID productsunderlines Cyra Nargolwalla, industrial property attorney at Plasseraud IP, who predicts a situation
Finally, there is the question of feasibility.: in France, we have not succeeded in producing a vaccine “,” text “:” Even admitting that there is a derogation on patents, it would also require a lifting of confidential information for know-how. Not to mention that we do not know who will be able to produce the RNA: in France, we have not succeeded in producing a vaccine “}}”>Even admitting that there is a patent waiver, it would also require a waiver of confidential information for know-how. Not to mention that we do not know who will be able to produce the RNA: in France, we have not succeeded in producing a vaccine.recalls François Pochart, from August Debouzy, a specialist in patent issues.
Under the WTO agreements, there is a compulsory license making it possible to use a patent by public authorities without the authorization of its owner. A system which plans to compensate the group at its origin.
In this context, it is not an expropriation, but a forced rentalexplains Yann Basire.
This complex system, never used in France, has enabled low-income countries to access antiretrovirals in the fight against the HIV epidemic.
There is also the mechanism of voluntary licenses. For COVID vaccines, certain laboratories such as Novavax have thus granted licenses to COVAX so that their vaccine can be produced by others.
There have even been agreements between competing companies. And this was done outside of any constraint mechanismrecalls Cyra Nargolwalla. Licenses which, however, are based on the goodwill of producers.
Finally, notes François Pochart, within the European Union, there is also a licensing mechanism for the export of drugs to countries that need them. A mechanism% of total price. This is a possible option, but no one has activated “,” text “:” which has been used, and provides for a remuneration of the patent holder of 4% of the total price. This is a possible option, but nobody has activated “}}”>that has been used, and provides for a remuneration of the patent holder of 4% of the total price. It’s a possible option, but no one has activated ithe emphasizes.