• Sun. Oct 17th, 2021

Vaccines, patent revocation: from Merkel to Pfizer, who says no

Byeditorial

May 6, 2021

Revoke Vaccine Patents? No. Angela Merkel and Pfizer united in opposition to the proposal, put forward by US President Joe Biden, which monopolizes the debate. The German Chancellor appears skeptical. “Intellectual property protection is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future,” a government spokesperson told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “The limiting factor in the production of vaccines – he added – is the production capacity and the high quality standards, not the patents”. “We are working in many ways on how to improve production capacities in Germany and the European Union, but also globally, and the companies concerned are doing so too,” the spokesperson continued. The US proposal, he commented, has “significant implications for the production of vaccines as a whole.” The position of the CEO of the American pharmaceutical multinational Pfizer, Albert Bourla, is more clear, who is “not at all” in agreement with the revocation. . Pfizer has produced and marketed, together with the German company BioNTech that had developed it, the first vaccine against covid approved in the West. Switzerland is also perplexed / opposed. In a statement sent to the Keystone-ATS agency, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) considers the announcement from the United States “significant”. For Seco, however, this temporary suspension will not guarantee “fair, cheap and rapid” access to vaccines and other pandemic technologies. For the Confederation, there is no simple solution, as there are numerous elements to consider. The President of the Confederation Guy Parmelin, interviewed today at the Srf, defended the protections on patents. According to the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (Defr), this is “necessary” for innovation. Didier Chambovey, Swiss ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), has repeatedly reiterated that pharmaceutical companies should not be deterred or discouraged from investing in innovation and research into new drugs. it could also lead to problems in future pandemics, warned Felix Addor, deputy director of the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) instead. In fact, it is questionable what might be the contribution of some players in the game if the rules are then suspended in the running. Switzerland – which has received criticism on the issue at national and international level – has however said that it is “ready” to continue the discussions started within the WTO, the Confederation then defended itself by recalling Berne’s support for various initiatives aimed at increasing the production capacity of vaccines and their fair distribution. Citing the Covax program and the millions of francs – a total of 700 – destined for various international initiatives (including, with 300 million, the “Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator”) to curb the pandemic, the Swiss authorities have reported several problems encountered globally ranging from the supply of doses to the implementation of the vaccination campaign in the various countries.