May 29, 2023

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Govt vaccines: suspension of patents, approved for what effectiveness?

# In other countries : After nearly two years of negotiations, the suspension of patents on anti-Govt vaccines has been approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO), a rare but delayed coding process that could have limited consequences.

The 164 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday agreed to a five-year waiver of patents for developing countries, an exception in the pharmaceutical sector.

Deliberately, this stigma would allow developing vaccines to “qualify” developing countries, including the use of messenger RNA technology, without the approval of the Early Inventor Laboratory.

The agreement has been sought since the outbreak of the disease by voluntary organizations and countries such as South Africa and India, in the face of vaccine inequality.

According to the World Health Organization, while 60% of the world’s population has received two doses, the situation remains highly asymmetric, with 17% in Libya, 8% in Nigeria or less than 5% in Cameroon.

To the UN Special Rapporteur on Discrimination, Tendai Achim, “the current situation is the equivalent of the vaccine racism system.”

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This is the first time a temporary lift has been decided by the World Trade Organization. In 2001, the organization instituted a system of compulsory licensing for treatment with three modal treatments against HIV, namely licenses without the consent of the patentee.

This made it possible for developing countries to lower prices, but there was difficulty in convincing laboratories.

So this new agreement is “one step ahead,” said Judge Franசois Bozard, an expert on patent issues. “States can make their own decisions without making demands. The real novelty is that this stigma allows the vaccine-producing country to export to other markets, to another qualified member, ”he added.

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Is it too late?

The pharmaceutical industry is hostile to a move that it considers ineffective, especially since the current production of vaccines is so large and adequate.

By mid-June, nearly 14 billion doses had been produced worldwide, according to scientific data analysis firm Aifinity.

Manufacturers like India’s giant serum institute of India have decided to stop production due to lack of demand.

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Thomas Quinney, president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries (Ifpma), argues that the biggest driver of unequal access to vaccines is “not intellectual property, but trade. The WTO has not handled it properly.”

For months, some producing countries have blocked exports in the name of health sovereignty.

The Federation of French Pharmaceutical Companies (LIM) responded that “intellectual property has proven to be fundamental in the response to epidemic (…) questioning it undermines the impetus for innovation”.

He believes that “the questioning of intellectual protection by patents by blocking production and cooperation affects global distributions.”

Not forgetting the logistics and access issues for caring for the most disadvantaged people. Because even with vaccines, it is still necessary to distribute them to the population.

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For their part, countries and voluntary organizations campaigning for greater equality have been disappointed.

“This is not in line with the initial demand,” said Judge Jerome Martin, co-founder of the Drug Policy Transparency Watch, regretting that the stigma only applies to developing countries. “You have to see what it gives to the ground, but that’s not ambition,” he laments to AFP.

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The South African government said in a statement, “The focus is now on meeting demand by forcing global vaccine suppliers as a source from African manufacturers.”

A few days ago, Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal pointed out that he did not believe the deal would lead to the creation of a small factory: “It is too late”.

In addition, the agreement in the WTO is not about costly treatment against Kovit, for which the organization still has six months to decide.

“We are disappointed that we cannot accept the denigration of all Covit-19 medical devices and intellectual property (…) covering all countries,” said Dr. Christos Cristo, MSF International President, in a statement.