Life as we know it has changed. The whole world has stagnated due to a microscopic virus. While many people wonder when the virus will “disappear” in the back of their minds, everyone knows that this virus will not go anywhere until a vaccine is invented.
There are nearly 3.85 million COVID-19 cases worldwide with around 270,000 deaths. It is an alarming number. If no vaccine is invented, there is no hope for the world.
Typically, the process of inventing a vaccine can take 7 to 10 years. However, given the global threat of COVID-19, many organizations are rapidly developing a vaccine. About 80 groups worldwide are working on developing a vaccine. There are currently around 111 potential COVID-19 vaccines at various stages of the clinical trial. If the human vaccine study is successful, we may have one later this year or early next year.
Vaccines against COVID-19 are currently being developed
After the World Health Organization, 8 COVID-19 vaccines are currently being tested on humans.
Italy: an Italian scientist who has resisted the development of a vaccine that belongs to those who work on human cells. The challenge is that the vaccine neutralizes the COVID-19 virus in human cells.
After a possible vaccination that includes the freedom that the virus can prevent from infecting human cells. The vaccine is in one of the surveillance stages. It is currently being tested at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome.
Israel – Israel has called for a breakthrough in the search for a vaccine against the virus. The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) neutralized monoclonal neutralizing access to the new coronavirus in the user’s body. Israel also said it would patent the vaccine and start mass production to make it available to the world.
University of Oxford: The Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford developed a COVID-19 vaccine in less than three months. The first human vaccine experiment was conducted on April 23.
United States: In the United States, the pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNtech have rights and collection tests to administer the BNT162 vaccine.
Patents: A problem?
In general, patents act as incentives to promote inventions. The exclusive right to use and commercialize your invention encourages inventions.
However, in times of such global crisis, patents pose a problem to the availability of the invention: a medical patent that corresponds to a legalized monopoly. This, in turn, reduces the availability of medicines, especially in the lower parts of the world.
The problem now is that when the COVID-19 vaccine is developed, is it patented? If so, how will the lower parts of the world have access to the vaccine? The presence of a vaccine in no way guarantees access to the vaccine.
Despite the dark situation, there is a silver coating. Countries such as Chile, Israel, Ecuador, Canada, Germany and Brazil have already introduced a mandatory license for the COVID-19 vaccine, if implemented. Costa Rica has proposed to the WHO (World Health Organization) the creation of the COVID-19 technology group so that all governments can share technical information and progress on the vaccine.
However, please note that compulsory licensing is a national decision. If the country where the vaccine is developed does not use it, the availability of the vaccine is limited.
The Story So Far:
Medical patents, especially patents for life-saving drugs, have always been a problem. For example, the PCV vaccine is a monopoly of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The company earns $ 5 billion a year on this vaccine. Pfizer sells it to the GOI for USD 850 per course in the United States and at a discounted price of USD 10 per course.
Although the preferential $ 10 rate is the highest price, the GOI issues every vaccine. For this reason, the government can afford to buy enough to treat only a small proportion of the children in need. As a result, there are still over 100,000 deaths from children due to pneumonia.
If you look at the history of COVID-19, we all know that there is a great lack of N95 breathing masks. Most people don’t know that 3M has over 400 patents for the airways, which severely limits the production and supply of patents.
The American pharmaceutical company Gilead owns Remdesivir. It was first developed in 2010 as a potential treatment for the Ebola virus. This antiviral drug shortens hospital stay from 15 days to 11 days after administration to patients with COVID-19 compared to placebo treatment.
Gilead donated 1.5 million ampoules of Remdesivir. This is enough to treat 1,400,000 patients. However, this raises the question of what to do next. Will Gilead allow serial production of Remdiesivir if it proves to be an effective treatment for COVID-19?
The problem is that pharmaceutical companies, even if they develop a vaccine, are hidden under many patents, making it inaccessible to the world’s poorest. Specific measures need to be taken at national and international level to make these necessary medicines more accessible. Jonas Salk, founder of the polio vaccine, asked if he could patent it: “Can you patent the sun?” Important drugs are necessary; Pharmaceutical companies should not be able to monopolize them.