Skip to main content

A global governance to coordinate the actions of production and distribution of vaccines and supplies in the fight against the coronavirus proposed, today, 04, professor Jayashree Watal, from National Law University, Delhi, and economist Luciano Martins Costa Póvoa, consultant to the Federal Senate. They participated in the ABPI – Brazilian Association of Intellectual Property international webinar. “Possible modifications in TRIPs in view of the Covid-19 pandemic”, which also had the participation of Roberta Arantes and Aline Ferreira de Carvalho da Silva, coordinators of the ABPI International Intellectual Property Law Study Commission.

Jayashree Watal considers the proposal to waive intellectual property rights provided for in TRIPs, the global agreement to guarantee these rights within the scope of the WTO (World Trade Organization) as unfeasible as a solution for accessing vaccines to the poorest countries. About the ongoing negotiation at the WTO, Professor Watal said: “It is a strategic tool to put pressure on companies, but it is complicated to force developers to transfer technology”, she said. “Right now we need faster action, global coordination, an implementing agency. Governments have to commit to an equal distribution of vaccines, that’s the only way we’ll end the pandemic.” According to her, the compulsory license institute does not solve the problem either. “Compulsory license only works when technology is copyable, and when the originator grants it collaboratively.”

For Costa Póvoa, the waiver of IP rights under TRIPs, which is being proposed by India and South Africa, is practically impossible to put into practice. He recalled that a patent, when opened, gives access to many other protected technologies, which leaves the protection system vulnerable. “A messenger RNA is not a simple patent, but a technological platform, and it has a very large number of patents around it”, he said, adding that when this “black box” is opened it can be used for other interests. Costa Póvoa finds it difficult for less developed countries to produce vaccines based on compulsory licensing. “Reverse engineering a vaccine is extremely complicated, reproducing such a technology requires very close contact with the holder of the technology, who has the knowledge,” he explained. “It is better to think about a greater global coordination to filter technologies and produce patents at lower costs, which could be used by everyone, while remunerating the holders of these technologies.”