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37 countries pledge to share coronavirus research, vaccines and treatments

Coronavirus outbreak: WHO, 37 other countries launch COVID-19 Technology Access Pool
On Friday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the organization is joining 37 other countries and "numerous partners" to launch the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (CTAP). The initiative will further equitable access to information on the virus, and includes public disclosure of all clinical trial research and gene sequencing research.

Thirty countries led by Costa Rica and the World Health Organization launched an initiative on Friday aimed at sharing vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic.

While the developing nations’ push, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, was welcomed by groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if it would really boost collaboration or broaden access to COVID-19 medicines.

The WHO effort comes amid concerns rich countries pumping resources into finding vaccines – more than 100 are in development – will muscle their way to the front of the queue, once a candidate succeeds.

READ MORE: 80 million children can’t get vaccines because of the coronavirus pandemic

Switzerland, home of big drugmakers Roche and Novartis, has also raised fears of “vaccine nationalism,” saying it wants to ensure fair access.

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“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado said, of the voluntary initiative.

Coronavirus outbreak: WHO announces creation of foundation to source more funding
Coronavirus outbreak: WHO announces creation of foundation to source more funding

The effort, originally proposed in March, aims to provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property amid a pandemic that has infected more than 5.8 million people and killed some 360,000.

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The WHO issued a “Solidarity Call to Action,” asking other stakeholders to join the push.

READ MORE: Why is the World Health Organization accused of mishandling the coronavirus pandemic?

However, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations raised concerns about undermining intellectual property protections, which the industry group said enable collaboration and will be needed after the pandemic is over, to prepare health systems for new challenges.

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“By urging licenses or non-enforcement declarations for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to be granted on a non-exclusive global basis, the ‘Solidarity Call to Action’ promotes a one-size-fits all model that disregards the specific circumstances of each situation, each product and each country,” the federation said.

Countries to sign up include Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Sudan, the Netherlands, East Timor and Uruguay, the WHO said.