It is critical that commitments to equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs are translated into tangible health tools in the hands of clinicians and patients. We at DNDi know firsthand how intellectual property restrictions can obstruct research, production, and distribution of affordable health technologies. Overcoming these obstacles is one of the most important steps governments can take to ensure COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs are available to everyone who needs them.
We strongly support the proposal of South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization, which would allow countries to choose whether to grant or enforce patents and other intellectual property related to COVID-19, and to take other steps necessary to ensure open sharing of knowledge and data, including through technology transfer. We urge other countries to support this proposal without delay, and to make use of TRIPS flexibilities where intellectual property barriers already exist, to ensure that all people – including the poorest, most vulnerable, and those at highest risk – are guaranteed timely and equitable access to the fruits of scientific progress in this pandemic.
Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, DNDi