Equitable Access To Vaccines To Figure In Global Pandemic Treaty
Amid growing concern over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, member states of the WHO are gathering this week to discuss the negotiation of a convention on future pandemic preparedness and response, with access to medical countermeasures on the agenda. A parallel WTO ministerial meeting that would have discussed the proposed TRIPS IP waiver has been postponed until further notice.
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The process of drafting an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response is picking up speed, although one NGO has warned that this must not distract from more immediate priorities such as technology transfer for producing COVID-19 medical products.
Equitable access to pandemic medicines and vaccines will be at the core of the WHO’s future global pandemic treaty. Exactly what this will mean for the pharmaceutical industry remains to be seen, but it is likely that companies wanting access to virus samples and other materials will need to agree to benefit sharing in the form of IP and technology transfer.
While news of a potentially highly transmissible new variant is causing alarm, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are already pursuing a multi-pronged response to B.1.1.529.