WHO, 37 countries launch alliance to share tools to battle COVID-19

ZURICH (Reuters) - Thirty-seven countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed on Friday for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, taking aim at patent laws they fear could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies. While the push by mostly developing nations, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if the effort to pool intellectual property would really broaden access to medicines

Reuters May 30, 2020 00:11:37 IST
WHO, 37 countries launch alliance to share tools to battle COVID-19

COVID-19 " src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/05-2020/30/2020-05-29T163511Z_1_LYNXMPEG4S1RV_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-WHO-FOUNDATION.jpg" alt="WHO 37 countries launch alliance to share tools to battle COVID19" width="300" height="225" />

ZURICH (Reuters) - Thirty-seven countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed on Friday for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, taking aim at patent laws they fear could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies.

While the push by mostly developing nations, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if the effort to pool intellectual property would really broaden access to medicines.

Developing and some small nations fear rich countries pumping resources into finding vaccines - more than 100 are in development - will muscle their way to the front of the queue, once a candidate succeeds.

"Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods," said Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado.

The effort, originally proposed in March, aims to provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property amid a pandemic that has infected more than 5.8 million people and killed more than 360,000.

The WHO issued a "Solidarity Call to Action", asking other stakeholders to join the voluntary push.

"WHO recognises the important role that patents play in fuelling innovation but this is a time when people must take priority," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news briefing.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations raised concerns about undermining intellectual property protections, which the group said already enable collaboration and will also be needed after the pandemic is over.

"The 'Solidarity Call to Action' promotes a one-size-fits all model that disregards the specific circumstances of each situation, each product and each country," the federation said.

Anna Marriott, health policy manager for anti-poverty group Oxfam, said the divide over how to handle patents illustrated how some regions could wind up losers.

"The pharmaceutical industry's attempt to rubbish the World Health Organisation's initiative suggests they care more for profits than people's health," she said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields and John Miller; Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.