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US Pharmaceuticals Plan to Share Coronavirus Vaccine Technology

More than half of Americans will have received at least one dose of Coronavirus Vaccine in the coming weeks. If current trends continue, people in most of the developing world will be fortunate to get a shot by 2022 – all the more justification, according to a group of US senators, for pharmaceutical companies to share their know-how and hasten the end of this global health crisis.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Jeff Merkley, and Christopher Murphy, all Democrats, wrote to Pfizer on Wednesday, stating that sharing intellectual property “such as vaccine recipes and manufacturing knowledge… could massively expand vaccine production and access.” The lawmakers ask the pharmaceutical giant whether it has shared any of its proprietary expertise with a group set up by the World Trade Organization for that reason and whether it wants to collaborate with any Indian companies to develop its highly effective mRNA vaccine.

Both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna received similar letters from the lawmakers. President Joe Biden has been urged by developing countries, former world leaders, and Nobel laureates to sign a WTO waiver that would enable countries like India and South Africa to use US intellectual property without fear of retaliation.

Moderna has stated that it will not enforce its Coronavirus Vaccine patents, but this does not seem to be enough to convince WTO representatives to start illegal manufacturing. While sharing intellectual property would not stop the current outbreak, Suhaib Siddiqi, the company’s former director of chemistry, told the Associated Press that a modern factory could start manufacturing the vaccine in less than four months.

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