Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020

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WHO, 37 countries launch alliance

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Health Desk- May 31, 2020: Thirty-seven countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed on Friday for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, taking aim at patent laws they fear could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies.

While the push by mostly developing nations, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if the effort to pool intellectual property would really broaden access to medicines.

Developing and some small nations fear rich countries pumping resources into finding vaccines - more than 100 are in development - will muscle their way to the front of the queue, once a candidate succeeds.

"Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods," said Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado.

The effort, originally proposed in March, aims to provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property.

"WHO recognises the important role that patents play in fuelling innovation but this is a time when people must take priority," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news briefing.