This week, the government of Costa Rica sent an urgent letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), calling for a ‘Global Covid-19 Patent Pool’. We support this initiative and we urge governments to pool biomedical knowledge in this way and create a knowledge commons for Covid-19 treatments.
Costa Rica suggests that a global Covid-19 Patent Pool could act as a database of patents and other information like production protocols regarding a new vaccine or treatment. It is inspired by the already existing Medicines Patent Pool. The letter, written by the president of Costa Rica, demands a global program to “pool rights to technologies that are useful for the detection, prevention, control and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Costa Rica proposes the pool “should include existing and future rights in patented inventions and designs, as well as rights in regulatory test data, know- how, cell lines, copyrights and blueprints for manufacturing diagnostic tests, devices, drugs, or vaccines. It should provide free access or licensing on reasonable and affordable terms, in every member country.”
As our partners at Knowledge Ecology International rightly said: “This is a very important proposal and WHO member states and those concerned about the pandemic should show strong support. The implementation will require substantial work, but this is exactly the right way to frame the issue and the necessary first step.”
This Covid-19 patent pool would allow all vaccine producers around the world to manufacture a new Covid-19 vaccine, using the patents that are in the patent pool. All the patents would be licensed in a non-exclusive manner. This would mean that we maximize global production capacity.
A global Covid-19 Patent Pool as suggested by Costa Rica could be an effective tool to maximize access and affordability of a new corona vaccine and deserves all our support. Only with true solidarity and global cooperation will we get through this crisis.
We support the letter that many of our partners in civil society have sent to the WHO today.