Geneva, 6th May 2021 –
Unitaid welcomes the decision of the United States government to support a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
This is an important step forwards for equitable access in the context of the current World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations around Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and we applaud the leadership of President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Ambassador Katherine Tai.
Alongside vaccines, there is a need to have broad access to all the tools to fight COVID-19 – including treatments – for low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which are currently carrying the heaviest burden of the pandemic.
An important component, alongside the waiver of intellectual property rights, will be the transfer of technology, so that manufacturers can receive the know-how to scale up production quickly. This equally applies to therapeutic products such as monoclonal antibodies, which could be an important tool in the COVID-19 response.
The current crisis of rising case numbers, new variants and constrained oxygen supply illustrates the urgent need for rapid action both in-country and at a global level. We encourage the international community to mobilise to make the tools to fight COVID-19 available to everyone, everywhere.
Marisol Touraine, Chair of the Unitaid Executive Board
Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director, Unitaid
Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Its work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management. Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization. www.unitaid.org
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