[Ip-health] Devex: Germany to donate 30M doses but won’t budge on COVID-19 vaccine IP

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Jul 16 01:01:57 PDT 2021



Inside Development

Germany to donate 30M doses but won’t budge on COVID-19 vaccine IP

By Jenny Lei Ravelo // 15 July 2021

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Jens Spahn, Germany’s federal minister of health. Photo by: Thomas Koehler
/ Imago Images / photothek via Reuters

Germany is donating 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, and more
could follow in the near future.

“We should be able to provide considerably more than these 30 million
doses. This is our baseline. And in the next coming weeks and months, we
should be able to provide more doses,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn
said during a press briefing Thursday.

About 80% of its dose donations will be through COVAX, the global
procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines, while around 20% will be given
bilaterally to countries, such as those in the Western Balkans, Ukraine and
other Eastern European countries, and Namibia, a former German colony.

Spahn also announced a new donation of €260 million ($310 million) for the
World Health Organization’s COVID-19 response. This new money brings
Germany’s contributions to the United Nations agency since 2020 to almost
$1 billion, he said.

But Germany is adamant about maintaining intellectual property rights for
COVID-19 vaccines.

“The German position concerning patents for vaccines ... has not changed
fundamentally,” Spahn said. “The goal is to vaccinate the world as fast as
possible, to give everyone around the world access to vaccines,” he added,
arguing that the question of patents “does not resolve the fundamental

“We think that this debate does not actually address the real problem. So
it's very ideological. We can have this debate, but the really important
question is: What is the fastest way to produce as much vaccine as possible
for the world?” he continued.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said raising the issue of
intellectual property would have been unnecessary if vaccines were in large
enough supply to ensure fair distribution and if companies had responded to
calls for voluntary licensing, or sharing their technology to increase
vaccine production.

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However, only one company — AstraZeneca — has so far responded to these
calls, he said.

“If the other companies have done the same thing, we could have better
volume to share,” Tedros said. He added that this has resulted in a market
failure that needs to be addressed, with an IP waiver being one way to do

WHO appreciates that companies developed vaccines in less than a year, he
said, but the private sector also has a social responsibility during the
pandemic. High-income countries can provide incentives by including the
private sector in their stimulus packages to address any potential
financial losses that companies may incur by waiving intellectual property

An IP waiver could be implemented within a limited period, such as one or
two years, or only for specific products such as COVID-19 vaccines, he said.

Spahn, however, said a waiver won’t solve the problem of supply. Companies
are cooperating with one another to boost production, and 2022 may even see
overcapacity related to messenger RNA vaccines, he added.

“There are so many cooperations on the way that actually what we want to
reach, what we want to achieve, can be achieved without ... these waiver
regulations,” he said.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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