Seoul urges Biden to break the vaccine intellectual property deadlock

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Covid-19 vaccine update

Seoul called on the Biden government to help South Korean companies obtain intellectual property rights to produce Covid-19 vaccines, as the highly infectious Delta variant prompted a reassessment of global vaccine demand.

South Korea’s attempt to obtain American company’s mRNA vaccine technology failed Rising divergence Between the interests of pharmaceutical companies and the perceptions of some international medical experts on the shortage of JAB supply.

“We have asked Washington to transfer vaccine production technology, but US officials said that this should be decided by the private sector,” said a senior Seoul official who asked not to be named.

The Biden administration has Urge vaccine manufacturers Share their technology and support a proposal of the World Trade Organization to suspend international patent rights.It added that a Low cost factory network Overseas can increase the global supply by billions of doses each year. These proposals have not yet made progress in the WTO.

The pharmaceutical industry has Strongly resisted attempts Give up the intellectual property rights of the Covid vaccine, believing that it will not increase production due to the limited supply of raw materials and the time required to teach other companies how to make the vaccine.

The Korean biotechnology industry, which has received strong national support, is Ready to cultivate billions U.S. dollars are used to expand the factory and produce 1 billion vaccines each year.

South Korean companies have signed agreements to produce vaccines for AstraZeneca, Novavax and Russia’s Sputnik jabs. Samsung BioLogics, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical contract manufacturers, will begin post-filling and finishing vials for Moderna this month.

Despite extensive vaccine partnerships, South Korean companies are still struggling to reach intellectual property licensing agreements with US pharmaceutical groups Pfizer and Moderna May agree President Joe Biden and his South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Such transactions will enable the Korean group to produce jabs for American companies under the contract.

“We are still negotiating with the United States on possible cooperation in the R&D process. But at this stage, the chances of signing any license agreement seem to be low,” a Seoul official said.

The Moon Jae-in government touted South Korea as a global vaccine manufacturing center and promised to provide 22 trillion won (US$1.9 billion) of national investment in vaccine development within five years.

Some of the obstacles South Korea faces include US concerns China may steal technology According to Congressman Park Kim, who had traveled to Washington to try to facilitate the deal, and the negative impact this exemption would have on vaccine developers.

He said: “But I believe that the United States can give up the intellectual property protection of the Covid vaccine for its allies (such as South Korea and Taiwan) through a licensing agreement.”

Moderna and Pfizer declined to comment.

However, vaccine manufacturers say they are rapidly expanding production, which is More efficient When completed in a few more large-scale places.

Pharmaceutical groups have always protected patents. Critics argue that these companies are cautious about setting precedents that can be applied to other life-saving drugs.

The deadlock coincided with some experts pointing out that as Delta variants proliferated globally, vaccine production plans were insufficient. Worried about diminished efficacy Stimulated the demand for boosters and made supply tight.

Jerome Kim, director of the Korea International Vaccine Research Institute, said: “These companies have felt that they have strong global manufacturing capabilities, and the current main disadvantage is’fill and finish’.” “The feeling of others is that there are just not enough vaccines. Made.”

The Biden government is funding vaccine manufacturing projects in other countries to establish regional supply “centers,” but these projects do not include South Korea.

Dave Marchick, the chief operating officer of the Development Bank of the United States Development Finance Corporation, told the Financial Times: “South Korea is a very dynamic market, but it is not the only market. We hope to be in Africa and South Africa. The Americas do more.”

Additional report by Hannah Kuchler in London

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