Slideshow: “MC12” WTO Ministerial Conference
At the WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference WTO Members should agree new trade rules to support the global response to COVID-19, accelerate the economic recovery, and enhance future pandemic preparedness. WTO Members should eliminate tariffs on health products, including finished therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines, as well as the active pharmaceutical ingredients, raw materials, chemicals, other inputs and intermediaries, and specialty equipment used to invent, manufacture, and deploy these products.
WIPO Director General Calls for Collective Action to Overcome COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Global Challenges
A range of intellectual property-related indicators showed great resilience despite the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic. In opening the WIPO Assemblies, WIPO Director General Daren Tang highlighted the need for WIPO to evolve, to mirror this trend toward the increasing centrality of human innovation and creativity as principal drivers of economic growth.
WHO: ACT-Accelerator partnership
Global leaders attending the US-hosted Global COVID-19 Summit on 22 September re-affirmed their commitment to ending the acute phase of the pandemic, and the goals of the ACT-Accelerator, by agreeing targets to provide equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Global targets agreed at the Summit include vaccinating 40% of the world’s population in 2021 and 70% of the population in 2022; achieving testing rates of one per 1,000 people per day in all countries by the end of 2021; and for all facilities treating patients with severe COVID-19 to have sufficient oxygen supplies, quality-assured treatments and PPE.
UN: Covid-19 Summit: Sharing Knowledge, Technology Critical to Curb Virus
Leaders at a virtual Covid-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2021, pledged to mobilize millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines and billions of dollars to “build back better”. Following the summit, the US and European Commission made public a statement to launch a “taskforce” on Covid-19 manufacturing and supply chains, which includes a commitment to coordinate initiatives to boost global production of vaccines and therapeutics.
COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP 2021)
WHO is issuing the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for 2021 and accompanying documents as a package aimed at guiding the coordinated action that we must take at national, regional, and global levels to overcome the ongoing challenges in the response to COVID-19, address inequities, and plot a course out of the pandemic.
The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan 2021 (SPRP2021) builds on what has been learned about the virus and our collective response over the course of 2020, and translates that knowledge into strategic actions. This plan builds on achievements and also focuses on the new challenges, to mitigate, for example, risks related to new variants. The plan also considers the road we need to travel towards the safe, equitable and effective delivery of diagnostics and vaccines as part of the overall strategy to successfully tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea launches task force on vaccine and lays out new approach to trade
With the launch of a task force on vaccine production South Korea aims to become the world’s fifth-largest vaccine-producing nation in the next four years. President Moon Jae-in said South Korea aims to become the world’s fifth-largest vaccine-producing nation in the next four years. Moon has pledged to designate vaccine development as one of the nation’s three strategic technology areas, along with those of semiconductors and batteries, and invest 2.2 trillion won (US$1.92 billion) in the next five years (read the full story here).
Furthermore, according to Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo, South Korea will present a new concept for trade in five important sectors, including pharmaceuticals. Korea will provide the necessary support to companies producing vaccines to enter the global vaccine supply and establish bases in countries where major vaccine producers are located. The country will seek to reduce tariffs on vaccines through partnership with World Trade Organisation member countries (read the full story here).
OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Report: Keeping the Recovery on Track
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) published its Economic Outlook Interim Report stating that a global economic recovery from the pandemic was finally taking hold, but it inched back its forecast for worldwide economic growth and warned that the rebound was benefiting wealthier countries more than the developing world as vaccine distribution occurs at an uneven pace. Countries that have made big strides toward vaccinating most of their populations are bouncing back much more quickly than those that are still struggling to obtain shots, the O.E.C.D. said, raising a host of related economic problems that are affecting global supply chains and pose a risk for the future.
Laurence Boone, the organization’s chief economist: “If we continue to vaccinate and adapt better to living with the virus, supply will begin to normalize and this pressure will fade, but for that we have to vaccinate more people.”
Trade secrecy and COVID-19
In this working paper, Innovation Council’s Mark Schultz and his colleagues analyse how trade secrets and other IPRs underpin innovation and manufacturing of Covid-19 Vaccines. They document that innovators already are sharing secrets and know-how widely with dozens of partners across the world to produce vaccine and therapeutic doses as quickly as possible. In several instances, they are working closely with their biggest competitors, thanks to the security provided by trade secrecy and other IP laws.
The authors conclude that forcing the disclosure of trade secrets would get in the way of manufacturing badly needed doses of Covid-19 vaccines by undermining voluntary arrangements and diverting resources from where they are needed most.
Why trade secrets matter: Covid vaccine manufacturing scale-up and the WTO’s proposed IP waiver
Geneva Network is organising a discussion on the role of trade secrets in Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. A panel of global experts, including Innovation Council’s own Mark Schultz, will shed light on how this important intellectual property right works, how it relates to vaccine manufacturing, and the implications of the IP waiver currently under discussion at the WTO.
The webinar will take place on September 14, 2021: 13.00 – 14.00 GMT.