United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) executive director Henrietta Fore Tuesday proposed simplifying intellectual property rights (IPRs) to produce more COVID-19 vaccines.
“Some countries have obtained enough doses to immunize their populations several times, while other countries have not even received the first dose yet,” said Ms. Fore. “This situation threatens us all. The virus and its mutations will win.”
At the current rate, the supply of vaccines is not sufficient to meet demand and the available supply is concentrated in the hands of too few people, she said in a statement.
While Ms. Fore proposes to simplify IPRs through voluntary and proactive licensing by rights holders, she believes that this will not be enough to increase production.
IPR holders should come up with technology partnerships to support IP licensing, proactively share know-how and outsource to manufacturers without excessive geographic or volume restrictions, the executive director insisted.
Drugmakers could use proactive partnership and cooperation, increasing the scale and geographic diversity of manufacturing capabilities, she added.
“We need to end nationalism in vaccines,” Fore continued. “Governments must remove direct and indirect export and import controls that block, restrict or slow exports of COVID-19 vaccines, ingredients and supplies.”
“Beating COVID-19 in each of our countries of origin also means beating it around the world by ensuring a steady flow of vaccines and supplies for all,” insisted Ms. Fore.
The UNICEF executive director also said governments that have contracted to receive more doses than they need to immunize their entire adult population this year should donate the 2021 surplus to COVAX. so that it is distributed equitably among the other countries.
The COVAX mechanism is the result of a collaboration launched by the World Health Organization and certain international partners. It brings together governments, global health organizations, manufacturers, scientists, the private sector, civil society, and patronage, to provide innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
In addition, countries with sufficient stocks of manufactured doses should consider donating at least 5% of their immediately available doses and commit to making further contributions on an ongoing basis throughout the year, by increasing their contributions according to the increase in the stock, “she added.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear to us that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Ms. Fore concluded.