COVID-19: Principles for Global Access, Innovation and Cooperation
COVID-19 has no nation and no ethnicity. If the pandemic goes unattended in one country, it will accelerate beyond that country’s borders, potentially overwhelming the world’s ability to respond.
Nationalistic responses to COVID-19 are ineffective. Countries must urgently work together to ramp up the production of all medical countermeasures, from masks and ventilators to tests, treatments and vaccines, and ensure that everyone receives the medical attention they need. We must tend not only to COVID-19 and its symptoms, but to people’s ongoing and underlying health needs, which will become more acute as the pandemic runs its course.
There is real danger that access to medical breakthroughs addressing COVID-19 will be restricted by nation, by price, by limited production and fragmented supply lines, and by exclusivity and commercial confidentiality. We must prevent this – and help change medical innovation, health and nationalism – by moving corporations, health agencies and governments to share medical technology, invest in public manufacturing capacity and promote access for all.
We are concerned that powerful countries may favor their drug corporations and hoard medical tools at the expense of global cooperation. We are concerned that privileged individuals who receive tests, treatments and vaccines first may not be those who need them most. We stand in solidarity with those disproportionately affected by factors such as health status, geography, age, gender or race.
We call on governments, agencies, manufacturers, donors and development partners to commit to:
Innovation for all: Monopoly-based drug development is failing the world. Governments should support open science and research practices for COVID-19 related health needs that align innovation and timely access. Technology owners should commit patents, trade secrets, know-how, cell lines, copyright, software, data, and all other relevant intellectual property to the public domain. Access and affordability should be integral requirements of the entire research and development (R&D) and manufacturing process.
Access for all: Medical tools urgently needed to diagnose, treat, mitigate and prevent COVID-19 should be accessible and available to all without delay, with necessary priority given to healthcare workers and vulnerable populations. Governments must ensure that diagnostics, treatments, devices, vaccines, and personal protective equipment are priced fairly and affordably to healthcare payers and are free to the public at the point of care in all countries. Corporations and other intellectual property holders must suspend enforcement of exclusivities.
Solidarity and global cooperation: Governments, technology owners and researchers should urgently coordinate with the World Health Organization to organize platforms for the public sharing of R&D outcomes, data, know-how and intellectual property to accelerate innovation, quickly scale-up production and mitigate shortages and supply chain vulnerability. Medical tools must be manufactured for the public in robust supply to meet unprecedented global need and promptly distributed across borders.
Good governance and transparency: Governments and international organizations should promote transparency and meaningful civil society participation in critical decision-making processes. Funders and technology developers should ensure that costs related to R&D and manufacturing as well as pricing, regulatory status and intellectual property claims all are published transparently.
Health is a human right. Medical knowledge is a public good. No one should be left behind.
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