Moderna should not be lionized for taking baby steps on access when we are in a race for our lives. Moderna is bowing to relentless international pressure from civil society – the activists and access to medicines experts working to save lives even as the Trump administration and other governments refuse to stand up to Big Pharma. But Moderna knows that this non-enforcement-of-patents concession is meaningless without a commitment to share not only the patents, but also all the information, know-how, data, and biologic resources needed for other qualified vaccine manufacturers to produce the vaccine economically and at scale to meet global need. Moderna should fully commit to sharing all necessary rights and knowledge through the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), with no artificial time limitation based on the severity of the pandemic.
All other COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostics manufacturers should immediately follow suit and allow full technology transfer of their products as well.
The American people, via the U.S. government, have already funded nearly $1 billion of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine research and development, has pre-purchased 100 million doses for $1.5 billion, and has options to buy another 300 million doses. The Trump administration should back up its words with actions and truly stand up to Big Pharma by committing to make Moderna’s vaccine available globally through non-voluntary means, if necessary.
It is no accident that Moderna’s announcement comes less than a week after South Africa and India filed a petition to the World Trade Organization calling for waiver or suspension on the granting or enforcement of any intellectual property protections on COVID-19-related medical technologies for the duration of the pandemic. Governments around the world should support their petition and join India and South Africa in stepping forward to protect people over drug company profiteering.
People around the world will continue to get sick and die under unnecessary scarcity unless all available and qualified vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to scale up production.
Finally, it’s time to hear from the Biden campaign, in detail, on these urgent issues of global access. If elected president, would Vice President Biden use the existing powers of the U.S. government to ensure global access to life-saving COVID-19 technologies?