February 21, 2024

Global Leadership Divided Over Vaccine Patent Removal

Yes from Biden, Putin, Macron, Commission, no from Merkel, Burla, Switzerland, pharmaceutical companies

A heated argument is raging following US President Joe Biden’s proposal on the need to overturn the patent on coronavirus vaccines. A few hours after the public intervention of the American President, who supported the World Health Organization’s proposal to abolish intellectual property rights on vaccine patents, both Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron spoke out in favor of repealing the patent on vaccines, while Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen quickly stated that the EU was ready to discuss the matter.

However, the first clouds did not last long, as a representative of the federal government rushed to express Berlin’s concerns about the quality of the vaccines, but above all about the need to protect ownership of innovations in the future.

Berlin’s concerns were quickly backed by German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which assumed such a development would yield no significant results. A little later, the managing director of Pfizer, Albert Burla, expressed his opposition, as did Switzerland.

“Yes” from Putin

“Under the current conditions, as I have said many times in the past, one should not think about how to get the maximum benefit, but how to ensure people’s safety,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the Vice President of the Russian Federation Federation. Government, Tatiana Golikova.

“Right now we are hearing that there are ideas in Europe that I think deserve attention. In particular, they say that the patent for vaccines against the coronavirus should be lifted in general. “Not only does this not contradict, but as I understand it, it conforms to certain World Trade Organization rules that provide for the withdrawal of similar patent protection in exceptional circumstances,” added the Russian President.

Macron is also for it

But Emmanuel Macron, who has so far been reluctant, also advocates removing intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines.

“Yes, of course we must act to make this vaccine a global public good,” said the French president, who said last month he opposes the repeal of the patent.

“We can transfer the intellectual property rights to drug manufacturers in Africa, but they don’t have the platform to produce the mRNA. Our goal is to transfer to Africa the technology and know-how of the platforms that produce mRNA vaccines, that’s the key,” the French President said today.

At the same time, he stated that there was no vaccine nationalism on the part of Europe. “Europe is the most generous continent to the rest of the world. With the cans we produce, we have consumed about 65 million cans for ourselves and exported 45 million. Today, for other cans made by the British and the Americans, for example, zero cans were exported,” he added.

Negative Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel today took a negative stance on a US proposal to remove patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, raising doubts as to whether the idea can garner enough international support to make it a reality.

The US plan would pose “serious complications” for vaccine production, a federal government spokeswoman said in an email on Thursday.

Without the incentive to capitalize on research and development spending, pharmaceutical companies might not be as aggressive in developing vaccines going forward, argues Berlin.

BioNTech: That won’t work

BioNTech estimates that patent protection for vaccines is not the factor limiting their production and supply to countries.

“Patents are not the factor that limits the production or supply of our vaccine,” said the company, which co-developed a coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer. The cancellation of the patent will have no impact in the short to medium term, BioNTech added.

“Experts have already pointed out that the installation and approval of new production sites usually takes a year,” she also pointed out in her corresponding announcement, emphasizing: “The production of mRNA vaccines, such as that of BioNTech/Pfizer”, is a complex process that has been developed over a period of more than ten years. All steps must be precisely defined and carried out by “experienced personnel”. If not all conditions are met, the quality and effectiveness of the vaccine could be affected. “And that could endanger the health of the vaccinated.”

Reservations also from the Swiss

The Swiss government considers Washington’s decision to support the lifting of patents on Covid-19 vaccines an “important announcement” but leaves many questions unanswered.

“This is an important announcement by the US, but many questions remain unanswered regarding the specific solutions being considered in this regard,” US Secretary of Commerce SECO said in a statement.

SECO, which is responsible for economic policy and trade negotiations, added that Switzerland remains convinced that lifting intellectual property rights in the context of the pandemic does not ensure fair, affordable and quick access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostic products for Covid-19. 19 can guarantee.

Against the cancellation of the patent was the powerful man from Pfizer Albert Burla

The CEO and CEO of American giant Pfizer said he was “not at all” in favor of the US decision to support the cancellation of patents on vaccines against Covid-19, believing that it would be preferable to increase production at existing units.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Albert Bourla stressed that the opening of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine production sites in locations other than those already present in the US and EU (Belgium and Germany) is due to the lack of raw materials Materials would be complicated, with the risk that the number of batches produced would decrease.

“We must focus our efforts” on the factories that are already producing the vaccine and “have sufficient capacity to manufacture billions of doses and ensure that (production) is not disrupted by politically motivated announcements.” “These are empty promises ‘ he stressed.