Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Production via Involuntary Technology Transfer
The South Centre policy brief 102 (September 2021)
9 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021 Last revised: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 18, 2021
This policy brief explains that the currently discussed proposals at the WTO related to increasing the production of COVID-19 vaccines, including the EU proposal to clarify the use of compulsory licensing and the submission by South Africa and India on the intellectual property (‘IP’) waiver, require complementary mechanisms to rapidly improve the production of COVID-19 vaccines that is urgently needed today. The key problem is that to accelerate the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, access to knowledge and know-how, which are protected by trade secrets owned by several pharmaceutical companies, is required. It is, therefore, important that governments implement an additional mechanism of compulsory licensing of trade secrets that would allow an involuntary transfer of COVID-19 vaccine technologies. Such a mechanism would be compliant with the TRIPS Agreement and be relevant both in case of the adoption of the TRIPS IP waiver and if such a mechanism cannot be agreed upon. While this mechanism must provide full access to the information necessary to manufacture the vaccine in question, it must also ensure the protection of the transferred trade secrets.
Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine technologies, trade secrets, patents, the TRIPS IP waiver, compulsory licensing, technology transfer
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