US plans to share coronavirus technology with WHO
The Biden administration is planning to share government-backed COVID-19 technology with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help low and middle-income countries access crucial medicines.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra and chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci both confirmed that the U.S. was looking into licensing COVID-19 medical technologies owned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access pool (C-TAP).
Becerra and Fauci were unable to provide specific details on this new policy.
According to Fauci, the details of this plan are still being “ironed out.” The technologies will be sub-licensed through the Medicines Patent Pool, a Switzerland-based international organization aimed at enhancing access to medicines for low and middle-income countries.
“We’re still in early stages,” said Becerra. “This latest announcement is an effort to try to let low and middle-income countries know that we want them to have capacities as well.”
This development was first reported by The Washington Post.
When asked if the U.S. plans on licensing the technology for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Becerra said they would “push the envelope where the law allows us.” The federal government is currently engaged in a dispute with Moderna over who can name themselves as the inventors of the vaccine on the patent application.
Moderna’s vaccine was produced at an expedited pace with the help and collaboration of NIH researchers. The NIH is seeking to have some of its researchers included on a patent for the mRNA sequence of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. Moderna is arguing that they should be excluded, saying its own researchers independently developed the sequence.
“They’re still in the negotiation of what one might call a patent dispute,” Fauci said on Thursday. “They’ve been held in abeyance now because everybody’s focusing on responding to the outbreak itself. We really cannot speak about any aspects of that. “
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