[Ip-health] Medicines Law & Policy welcomes WHO’s Solidarity Call to Action to realise equitable global access to COVID-19 health technologies through pooling of knowledge, intellectual property and data

Kaitlin Mara kaitlinmara at medicineslawandpolicy.net
Fri May 29 08:27:13 PDT 2020

Hi all,

Please find ML&P's statement welcoming the launch of the Covid-19
Technology Access Pool here:

And below.

All the best,

The World Health Organization today with Costa Rica launched the “COVID-19
Technology Access Pool (C-TAP)” to ensure that knowledge, data and
intellectual property are shared so that the diagnostics, therapeutics and
vaccines needed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic become available and
accessible to all.

The initiative was first proposed to the WHO by Costa Rica on 23 March and
is now cosponsored by 37 countries. Costa Rica’s call was endorsed on 27
March in an open letter to the WHO signed by nearly 100 public health
organisations and experts, and since then momentum has been growing.
Numerous global health organisations, including UNAIDS, UNITAID and the
Medicines Patent Pool have also now pledged their support.

Medical innovation is urgently needed to develop and produce tools to fight
the pandemic. To facilitate this, the C-TAP mechanism would gather in one
place and make available knowledge related to prevention, detection and
treatment of Covid-19. The Pool will facilitate both further innovation and
the rapid scale-up of manufacturing for any promising technology that is
developed. There are different ways to incentivise the sharing of knowledge
with the Pool; for example, royalties could be offered on resulting

There is currently no proven effective vaccine or treatment to respond to
the pandemic. It is encouraging that governments are investing large
amounts of money to speed the availability of therapeutics, diagnostics and
vaccines. But once an effective tool is available, demand for access to it
will be immediate, and global. No one company will be able to meet the
demand. C-TAP can both accelerate innovation and maximise global capacity
to produce whatever innovation proves useful.

The initiative comes at a time governments and charitable institutions are
spending billions of public financing on research and development of new
health technologies for Covid-19. On 4 May, the European Commission hosted
a pledging conference that initially raised 7.4 billion Euros for that
purpose. As of today, that figure had grown to 9.8 billion Euros.

But what is missing from this unprecedented mobilisation of public funds is
the requirement that intellectual property, knowledge, know-how and
technologies whose development is supported by these funds are shared. This
public money should have strings attached. Requiring recipients of these
funds to license resulting innovations to C-TAP will help guarantee public

The C-TAP initiative itself is a voluntary initiative and will not itself
be able to force holders of important intellectual property to license to
the Pool.

Countries, however, do have the power to force licensing at the national
level. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, several countries have amended their
patent legislation to be able to take swift non-voluntary measures should
patents form a barrier to ensuring adequate supplies of new products needed
to prevent and treat Covid-19. Germany for example on 27 March passed the
“Act on the Protection of the Population in Case of an Epidemic Situation
of National Significance”, which facilitates use of a patented technology
for the public welfare, without permission of the patent holder. (Germany
is not yet one of the co-sponsors of the Solidarity Call to Action for

For the time being, a notable absentee from the rising chorus of support
for knowledge, IP and data sharing via C-TAP is the pharmaceutical
industry, which enjoys billions in public financing to develop Covid-19
products and vaccines. They have unhelpfully misrepresented the initiative.
But it is now time for them to better understand the proposal and to come
to the table.

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