WHO calls on countries to produce more vaccines by ignoring patents
The UN body is committed to overcoming bottlenecks in production
BarcelonaThe director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged countries to manufacture their own vaccines by waiving patents, to combat the shortage of doses. The head of the UN agency recalls that countries that have the capacity to manufacture vaccines can ignore patents, a possibility provided for by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in emergency situations. In this sense, he welcomes the initiative raised by South Africa and India before the WTO to waive patents on vaccines, treatments and other medical products for covid-19 until the end of the pandemic.
The Director-General stressed that the vaccines provided by the COVAX mechanism in the poorest countries (34.4 million doses distributed to 51 countries between last week and next week) "cover between 2% and 3% of the population, while some countries are already moving rapidly towards vaccinating the entire population".
The WHO also proposes other measures to speed up production, such as identifying bottlenecks and linking companies that are producing vaccines with other companies that are not using their full capacity for bottling and finishing vaccines. This is what Merck, for example, has done, which will fill and finish the vaccine for Janssen, owned by Johnson & Johnson
The agency is also committed to technology transfer: that the pharmaceutical companies that own the patents voluntarily transfer the manufacturing license to other companies, as has been done with AstraZeneca and India's Serum Institute.