Innovation and the COVID-19 response through end-2021

Innovation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic set a new historical precedent. This page contains resources related to the pandemic response, including the enabling role of IP, through December 2021.

IP protection facilitated innovation to fight the pandemic. It contributed to the development of the background technology and know-how that was quickly leveraged for the COVID-19 response. It facilitated investments to bring new COVID treatments to market. It enabled collaboration, which accelerated innovation. And it supported massive knowledge transfer, as global manufacturing networks were rapidly established to produce billions of doses.

As reported in the articles on this page, COVID vaccines were developed and brought to market in just 9 months, including vaccines using platforms that had never before been commercialized. Previously, the record for bringing a novel vaccine to society was 4 years. A fuller picture of innovation in response to COVID-19, is presented in a report co-authored by Innovation Council Executive Director Jennifer Brant, entitled Unprecedented and available here.

Innovation and COVID Resources

Insights for Policymakers

Innovation during the COVID pandemic was accelerated by certain enabling policies and actions, including IP protection. Applying lessons learned will enable policymakers to continue to respond effectively to address COVID, and to enhance future pandemic preparedness.

  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing are the foundation of rapid innovation to respond to a health crisis.
  • Public-private collaboration leverages work done by different actors in the innovation ecosystem. Allowing public research institutes to license IP assets to private sector partners helps new treatments reach society.
  • Alongside patent protection, trade secrets protection is crucial for innovation and collaboration.
  • Policymakers must address trade and other bottlenecks to ensure efficiency in global value chains for COVID vaccines and treatments.
  • Government support helped to accelerate the COVID-19 response, for instance financial support for clinical trials.
  • Some have called for removing IP on COVID solutions. This would have made it very difficult to innovate so quickly to address the pandemic.