Corona vaccines: patent protection must stay
On the occasion of the talks between the EU, South Africa, India and the USA on a compromise to waive intellectual property rights for coronavirus products, the biotechnology industry association BIO Deutschland reiterates the importance of patent protection for the success story of innovative vaccines. In order to provide the global population with access to vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus as quickly and comprehensively as possible, restrictions on intellectual property rights through the granting of compulsory licenses or use orders are the wrong approach and are even counterproductive.
Oliver Schacht, Chairman of BIO Deutschland, emphasizes: "Patent protection for innovative corona vaccines must remain. We fully support the German government in this position. The assumption that vaccines against COVID-19 can only be made quickly available to people in all countries if a worldwide suspension of patents is achieved within a short time is wrong. For example, the transfer of rules-compliant production of a safe biological vaccine usually takes several years, even if the original company invests considerable resources to transfer necessary know-how. Already, Indian and Chinese COVID vaccines are available alongside COVID vaccines from Europe and the United States. Production of these vaccines is running at full speed and the available capacity is growing steadily. A patent release cannot generate additional volumes in the short term. Conversely, a TRIPS waiver would jeopardize drug development with respect to other research areas, since drugs and vaccines are protected not only by one patent, but by a whole bundle of patents, with individual patents in such a bundle in turn often protecting other drugs and vaccines. This again can have devastating effects on the attractiveness of Germany as a biotechnology location, e. g. for investors, which would run counter to the stated goal of the German government."