They have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a “one-stop shop” for sharing scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property in efforts to beat back the disease.
“Tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19 are global public goods that must be accessible by all people”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking at the virtual launch held on Friday.
Equal access to technology critical
C-TAP is a sister initiative to the ACT Accelerator, established last month, to speed up development of vaccines and other tools against the pandemic.
It was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica.
“The promise of sure and safe and effective affordable health care solutions, such as treatments and vaccines, must be the guide for our actions, and it will allow us to overcome a crisis which has left behind so much pain in so many communities throughout the world”, he said, speaking through an interpreter.
“Nevertheless, there is no point in achieving these amazing technological developments if we cannot guarantee affordable access to technology.”
Voluntary ‘one-stop shop’
The UN health agency has described C-TAP as “a one-stop shop” that will be voluntary and based on the principle of solidarity.
WHO said it builds on the success of the Medicines Patent Pool in expanding access to treatments for HIV and the debilitating inflammatory liver disease, hepatitis.
There are five key elements to the initiative, starting with public disclosure of gene sequences and data, as well as clinical trial results.
Governments and research funders are also encouraged to include clauses in contracts with pharmaceutical companies that stress equitable distribution and publication of trial data.
Additionally, treatments and vaccines should be licensed to both large and small producers.
C-TAP also promotes open innovation models and technology transfers that increase local manufacturing and supply.
“Through C-TAP, we are inviting companies or governments that develop an effective therapeutic to contribute the patent to the Medicines Patent Pool, which would then sub-license the patent to generic manufacturers”, said Tedros.
WHO, Costa Rica and all the countries that have sponsored the initiative also issued a ‘Solidarity Call to Action’ urging other stakeholders to join C-TAP.