Covid-19 and vaccine patent rights

 

Sir, – I refer to an article by Christine Kelly (“Ireland must support waiver of Covid vaccine patents”, Opinion & Analysis, September 24th). The WTO Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) Agreement has, since 1995, set a minimum standard of protection for intellectual property. A proposal, led by India and South Africa, to temporarily suspend the Trips Agreement for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments would not boost production. Manufacturing capacity expansion is enabled by identifying suitable partners with the skills, technology and know-how to make approved Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. Our industry has voluntarily formed hundreds of partnerships with expert manufacturers globally. Manufacturers are investing in their own sites to scale production. The result is we are moving from having too few Covid-19 vaccines, to having enough, to probably having more than the world needs in the future. The intellectual property waiver debate is a diversion: the real question is how can we work together to vaccinate as much of the world’s population as fast as possible? Two ways: surge production through on-site investments and voluntary, collaborative links between vaccines innovators and expert manufacturing partners, and share surplus vaccine doses in developed countries with less economically advanced ones. That is happening. The EU and the US are boosting their dose-sharing commitments, pledging to support for stronger vaccines delivery, investing in regional vaccines production and guarding against supply-chain disruptions. These steps move us towards more equitable global Covid-19 vaccines distribution. Waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments would set a dangerous precedent for the discovery of new medicines for other diseases. Certainty would be lost. Instead, we need to protect our scientists’ ability to turn cutting-edge research into transformative treatments. – Yours, etc,

BERNARD MALLEE,

Irish Pharmaceutical

Healthcare Association,

Dublin 2.