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Patent exclusions and their impact on global vaccine shortages

Exempting intellectual property protection for the COVID-19 vaccine will not solve the global supply shortage, the Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company co-founder told CNBC.

Strand Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Jake Becraft said the push for patent waivers was It is a “political theater” and does not allow others to create a safe and effective vaccine that is very difficult.

His company does not manufacture the Covid-1

9 vaccine, but is developing a platform to create a programmable messenger RNA drug that can stimulate the body’s immune response to fight illness.

“We need to be committed to what we already produce and scale as much globally as possible,” Becraft said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia”.

Shortage of vaccines

The global shortage of the Covid-19 vaccine has left some countries struggling to find a device to launch their vaccination programs. In fact, India, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, is facing a domestic shortage amid a devastating second wave.

International health experts, rights groups and medical charities argue there is a critical need for IP waivers to address the global vaccine shortage and avoid a prolonged health crisis. This comes as many countries are affected, particularly in Asia, struggling with a new wave of infections due to the mutated strain of COVID.

But vaccine makers argue the move could disrupt the flow of raw materials and potentially lead to a reduction in health research investment from smaller biotech innovators.

Last year, India and South Africa made a joint proposal to WTO will waive IP rights for COVID vaccine.

Also known as travel waiver or trade-related intellectual property rights – this plan is blocked by some high-income countries such as the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada and the European Union, among others. France, for example, argues that avenues for increasing global vaccination are for countries producing vaccines to increase their exports.

While the US initially blocked the offer But Biden’s management this month said it supported an IP waiver for Covid-19.

Promoting the supply chain

Becraft said vaccines need to be strictly regulated and have advanced technology, and the necessary technology does not exist worldwide. That means that even with a patent waiver But some countries do not have knowledge of how to make their own vaccines.

But Becraft suggested that pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech should instead be incentivized to transfer technology to manufacturing sites around the world.

“If we want a safe and effective vaccine, we need to incentivize these companies to build global productivity,” he said.

“We have to go to Moderna, we have to go to BioNTech and say, ‘What will it take for you to transfer your technology to these developing world countries?'” Becraft said.

He added that unless everyone has access to the global vaccine there is still a risk of developing COVID that makes the vaccine ineffective. “What will all our progress have been for?”

Nisha Biswal, chairman of the US-India Business Council, agreed that the patent waiver would not solve the problem of promoting vaccine devices to the rest of the world.

If patent exemptions are granted, it may take months or years before technology, raw materials and production capacity meet the required standards. As for countries that can produce their own vaccines, she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.

Instead, focus should be on helping countries that already produce vaccines in expanding their production.

“Many of these (vaccine) manufacturers are in talks with India and Indian companies about how they might try to produce some in India,” Biswal said. Efficiency than talking about travel waiver. “

Becraft of Strand Therapeutics added that over the long term, global governments need to provide funding and infrastructure support for pharmaceutical companies to build global production sites.

Last week, BioNTech announced it would build a manufacturing facility in Singapore to produce mRNA-based vaccines.

CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to the report.

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