The Technology Transfer Rather Than IPR Waiver Will be More Meaningful!

  • Undeniably, the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic like the Covid-19 novel coronavirus has opened up the hitherto mostly conservative line of thinking adopted by the global community headed by respective governments. As the pandemic keeps raging for more than two years now, humanity is faced with a Himalayan challenge to not only make every effort to stay afloat but also find a way to tame the raging virus within an impossibly challenging short time.  The timely introduction of various vaccine candidates proved to be a great miracle in itself that could save millions of lives.  The vaccines also allowed several countries to kick-start economic activities in a limited way at first, and subsequently in a more pronounced manner as the days went by.

PC: Hopkins Medicine

  • As you are aware, when the virulent virus was at its menacing best ravaging humankind mercilessly during the initial months of 2020, the Indian government alongside South Africa had proposed a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights (IPR) on Covid vaccines. Recollect this happened in October 2020.  Since then, many other countries have backed the idea but nothing concrete has emerged on the ground.  The ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference in Geneva is witnessing a discussion, among other things, a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines.  Despite a lapse of more than two years since the pandemic first made its presence felt, not much has moved ahead in the right direction.
  • Delving further into the conference will reveal that the draft form will not benefit India much on account of its status as a vaccine exporter. However, the underlying reason for the original proposal, inequitable vaccine access in a health emergency, remains.  Therefore, it’s an issue that needs a solution forthwith.  The current position is that the vaccine supply is comfortable because of the extraordinary repurposing of resources.  To illustrate, the pre-pandemic yearly global production of vaccines was 1.5 billion doses.  In the last 18 months, almost 12 billion Covid vaccine doses have been manufactured.  Yet in large swathes of Africa, many are still to be vaccinated.  This is a worrying sign indeed.  Remember, no one is deemed safe till the last one standing is vaccinated.

PC: FT Reporters

  • Of course, the core issue is narrow access as manufacturing is largely confined to a handful of countries. What’s the best way forward then? Evidence shows it’s not a temporary IPR waiver.  For instance, US firm Moderna announced in 2020 that it will not enforce IPR on its mRNA vaccine as long as Covid is active.  It didn’t make a difference.  The key to expanding vaccine manufacture is by spreading technical know-how currently available to a handful of firms.  We know how the technology transfer in 2020 from AstraZeneca to Serum allowed India to quickly ramp up vaccine production.  Thus, finding a way to facilitate technology transfer, along with a financing mechanism, will be of immense help to Africa.  All responsible countries should work towards this.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.