Africa celebrates suspension of Covid vaccine patents

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African health officials celebrated what is called a “bold and wonderful” breakthrough on Thursday. Biden administration It cast its weight behind the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights in the Covid-19 vaccine. 

African Union officials say at least three countries: South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda Produce vaccines for the continent, Includes mRNA-type vaccines that have emerged as an innovative technology for Covid-19.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, welcomed the support of the US government for IP exemption, which is supported by dozens of developing countries led by South Africa and India. 

“It will undoubtedly have a significant impact on promoting the mRNA production agenda,” he added, adding that there is a “very focused discussion” about vaccine production on the continent. 

South Africa has some of the continent’s most advanced vaccine know-how, including Durban-based company Aspen. Johnson & Johnson vaccine 300m administration this year. The Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal also has experience in vaccine production and produces small amounts of yellow fever jabs each year.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, welcomed the Biden administration’s support for IP exemption © Zacharias Abubeker / FT

In addition, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame suggested that Kigali could be a vaccine hub. “It is important for Africa to build a public-private partnership for vaccine production on our continent,” he said last month, adding that Africa needs to accelerate its continental approach to drug regulation. “Vaccine fairness cannot be guaranteed by good intentions alone,” he added, adding that it is time for African countries to stop “feeling sorry for themselves” and act.Africa relies heavily on India for vaccine production. This is a weakness revealed by the Indian government’s temporary ban on the export of Covid-19 jabs. Less than 1 percent of Africans receive a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and new supplies are almost depleted.

Novel coronavirus 2019 nCoV pcr diagnostics kit. This is RT-PCR kit to detect presence of 2019-nCoV or covid19 virus in clinical specimens. In vitro diagnostic test based on real-time PCR technology

Authorities warned that there is still a long way to go Before African manufacturers start production. “The fact that the United States has indicated its intention to waive its intellectual property rights does not mean that it will happen,” said the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, which expected a backlash from pharmaceutical companies and perhaps other companies. Said Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the. EU and other countries. 

Rebecca Enoncheon, a technology entrepreneur in Cameroon and a board member of the World Health Organization Foundation, said the first step was “to make sure that patent issues are not an issue.” But still, she said, it would take time to build the physical and skill abilities needed to make an mRNA vaccine. Vaccine inputs such as nucleotides, enzymes, lipids, vials, caps and syringes are also in short supply worldwide. “I don’t think we can stand up for this pandemic,” said Enoncheon.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman of Biocon, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, said IP is not considered the biggest obstacle. “Today, everyone is discussing patents, patents, and patents. How many people can produce moderna vaccines on a large scale without forcing them?” She said. Said mentioning one of them. 

Building capacity in developing countries is “the next big problem,” said Fatima Hassan, founder of the Health Justice Initiative, a South African activist seeking access to vaccines. She said there were already at least 50 applications to the WHO Hub to transfer mRNA technology, “demonstrating a definite interest in the world.” 

Twenty years ago, South Africa, along with Brazil, led the fight against pharmaceutical companies’ defense of HIV drug patents. Legal victories eventually forced companies to lower prices for antiretroviral drugs for developing countries, but not before millions of people died of the disease. A South African diplomat seeking a suspension of the Covid-19 vaccine patent said, “Passing this exemption is ethically, epidemiologically and economically meaningful.”

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Meanwhile, Angela Merkel has expressed opposition to the Biden administration’s proposal to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, saying it would have “serious implications” for vaccine production worldwide. The German chancellor said the limiting factors in vaccine supply were “production capacities and the high-quality standards, not the patents”. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future,” she added.

Source: Emnetra