WHO donors seek a new tech transfer hub under ACT-A, C-TAP sidelined

A new technology transfer hub to facilitate bilateral licensing arrangements, is being proposed by France and powerful private groups, to be under established in the ACT Accelerator, away from the C-TAP.

For a world grappling with acute shortages of vaccines – the panacea to fight the pandemic and to restore the economy – technology transfer has come to emerge as a key to unlock idle manufacturing capacities which can be repurposed to churn out vaccines for an endless global queue of susceptible populations under the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. One year into the pandemic and more than 2.6 million deaths later, there is no global mechanism yet to ensure or kick start technology transfer in a way that meets this urgent demand.

The steps towards technology transfer have come by way of solutions including Costa Rica’s proposal for a COVID-19 Technology Access Pool that has met with insufficient support since its inception; the TRIPS Waiver proposal from South Africa and India that aims to alleviate production concerns by suspending IP obligations in international trade rules for the duration of the pandemic.

What is however, increasingly cited as a preferred path by both the private sector and the new DG of the WTO, for example, is bilateral licensing arrangements. For all the woes facing the company, AstraZeneca’s model of licensing its vaccines to be produced by manufacturers in a few different countries has become a favorite example for technology transfer among international policymakers.

It is this model, which is non-transparent and mostly subject to bilateral contractual negotiations, that is seen to be taking centerstage in this crucial discussion on how technology transfer be made possible during this stage of the pandemic that has seen a 10% increase of new reported cases in recent days.

A new ‘Covid Vaccine Capacity Connector’ that seeks to formalize bilateral arrangements for tech transfer, is now being proposed.

Image Credit: Photo by Sergio Souza from Pexels

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