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Collaborations only way out of the pandemic, say major pharma firms

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on October 19, 2021

Dub IP-waiver proposal a distraction though driven by good intention

Big pharmaceutical companies have reiterated their commitment to supply Covid vaccines to the the World Health Oganization-supported Covax facility, and added that collaborations were the way out of the pandemic.

“Other proposals, while well intentioned, are a distraction,” said a note from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), referring to the proposal seeking an Intellectual Property (IP) waiver on Covid products, made by India and South Africa, at the World Trade Organisation.

It’s been a year since India and SA made the proposal for a temporary IP waiver on medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines, among others, used in tackling Covid. The proposal to facilitate better access has since received support from a 100-odd countries, including the US, with the Biden administration throwing in its weight behind a waiver for vaccines.

Supplies in place

The IFPMA, however, points out that supplies are in place. “The vaccine production effort is estimated to reach 12.5 billion doses by the end of 2021 and double again to 24 billion doses by June 2022, at which time vaccine supplies will most likely outstrip global demand,” said a statement ahead of a meeting of the G-20 heads of state in Rome later this month. The numbers show that the premise of an IP waiver “to help address an assumed shortage of vaccines as the solution to vaccine equity has been overtaken by the facts”, said the IFPMA.

The solution to vaccine equity resides in “dose sharing, continuing to optimise output through manufacturing scaling up and voluntary licensing; as well as working together to enable countries to efficiently and effectively vaccinate their people”, they said.

Their statement comes even as public health voices, including the WHO and humanitarian organisation across the world, call out the lop-sided distribution of Covid vaccines, with developed countries receiving a lion’s share of the supplies.

IFPMA members include Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Roche, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, AstraZeneca and Moderna, all of who have critical Covid vaccines, anti-virals, and biological therapeutic products in their portfolio.

The association pointed out that Covid vaccine manufacturing output, driven principally by the US, the EU, China, and India, was over one billion vaccines each month. “The 9.3 billion Covid vaccine dose output by the end of October, and the estimated production of 12.5 billion by the end of the year, demonstrates the industry’s success in trebling global vaccine capacity in less than a year,” said the IFPMA, adding that about 300 voluntary collaborations were formalised during the pandemic period to support production.

Published on October 19, 2021

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