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The Biden administration will share US government-designed coronavirus technologies with the World Health Organization, a policy shift intended to allow other countries to replicate some US scientific breakthroughs and better fight the pandemic at home. abroad, federal officials said Thursday.
Under the plan, certain technologies currently being developed by the National Institutes of Health will be licensed to the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, senior NIH official Anthony Fauci told reporters. The technologies will also be sub-licensed to the United Nations-backed medicines patent pool.
Fauci declined to detail what technologies would be made available for licensing by other countries, saying details of the plan were “still being worked out.” The new policy is not intended to apply to vaccines and therapeutics that have been developed by private companies and are currently on the US market, according to three people familiar with the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity because they do not were not allowed to speak. with the news media.
The US should not share NIH-developed technology that was used by Moderna, the vaccine maker that worked closely with the US government in its messenger RNA vaccine. Foreign countries and developers have long demanded access to Moderna’s technology and know-how, saying it would allow them to more quickly replicate their own versions of Moderna’s vaccine.
Sharing the technologies behind NIH-designed coronavirus diagnostics, treatments and vaccines is intended to allow other countries and developers to replicate the manufacturing process. As a result, officials expect the decision to build up a global stockpile of supplies to fight the pandemic more quickly.
“I thank the NIH for providing innovative therapies, vaccines and diagnostic methods for COVID-19,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Voluntarily sharing technologies through non-exclusive agreements will not only help us put the pandemic behind us; it will also enable low- and middle-income countries to produce their own medical products and gain equitable access.
The WHO, dozens of foreign countries and public health advocates have spent nearly two years urging the United States and other wealthy countries to share technologies related to its coronavirus vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Spain announced in November that it would share the technology behind an anti-coronavirus antibody test with the WHO, the first major donation to the pool, known as C-TAP.
U.S. participation in the WHO pool could jump-start global donations of such technologies, officials and advocates said.
“The U.S. government is setting the tone for the relationship between countries and the pharmaceutical industry, and for this kind of global cooperation,” said Peter Maybarduk, who oversees the global medicine program at Public Citizen, an advocacy organization. interests. “And by taking public inventions and working with the WHO to make them available to humanity…it’s a clear and powerful demonstration of what governments can do.”