More than half of all the Americans would have been inoculated with at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. If things go as planned, most of the developing countries will be fortunate enough to be vaccinated by 2022. All that much more justifications, according to the team of US lawmakers, the pharmaceutical firms should share their expertise and speed up the cessation of this worldwide health issue.
All Democrats, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Jeff Merkley, and Christopher Murphy, wrote a letter to Pfizer on Wednesday stating that Sharing intellectual property, “such as vaccine recipes and manufacturing information… could drastically expand vaccine development and access.”
The senators questioned the pharmaceutical company, in the letter, if it has shared its patent skills with a community established for this purpose by WTO ( World Trade Organization), and more importantly, whether it has any intention to collaborate with any of the Indian companies to manufacture its potentially powerful mRNA vaccine.
Senators also wrote similar letters to both Moderna and Johnson&Johnson.
Crisis in India spurs calls for action
Due to inadequate vaccination and pathetic management of the situation by P.M. Narendra Modi’s government, a significant increase in Covid-19 cases has been witnessed in India, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is manufactured. In India, doctors have blamed Modi for becoming a “super spreader” of the disease by conducting large political protests in the weeks foregoing the sudden rise, resulting in 357,700 new cases. The government has also been criticized for not ensuring that the local hospitals have an adequate supply of emergency oxygen.
However, apart from the shortcomings of the government, it is uncertain that the enhanced production of the coronavirus vaccine will help to alleviate the pandemic and prevent the spread of more harmful strains of the virus.
President Joe Biden has been persuaded by developing countries, along with the previous global leaders and Noble prize winners, to approve a WTO disclaimer that might permit the countries such as South Africa and India to use the proprietary information of the U.S. without the fear of being retaliated. Industry organizations have suggested that such exemption should prevent private developments.
Modern has stated that it will not implement its vaccine patents, but this is not enough to persuade WTO associates to initiate illicit manufacturing.
Although sharing the proprietary information will not help in the current situation, but the company’s previous director of chemical, Suhaib Siddiqui, told the reporters that a new plant might start the production of the company’s vaccine within four months.
Like European Union, the Biden government has so far refused to endorse the petition for WTO disclaimer, but it has announced earlier this week that it will start distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine in India without any delay.
Meanwhile, the U.S. pharmaceutical firms have said that they would soon respond to senators’ concerns.
Lisa Cannellos, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, told Insider, “We are committed to the health and safety of people worldwide and look forward to replying to the senators’ letter.”
Pfizer’s representative has confirmed that they received the letter but refused to comment further.
The senators’ have demanded the answers by May 11th.