National Institutes of Health teams with WHO to license COVID-19 technologies

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The National Institutes of Health has announced an agreement with the  World Health Organization and the Medicines Patent Pool to make COVID-19 health technologies available worldwide.

The NIH has licensed 11 COVID-19 research tools and early-stage vaccine and diagnostic candidates to the Medicines Patent Pool through WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Poo, or C-TAP. 

The licenses will allow manufacturers from all around the world to use these technologies for the potential development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics to benefit people living in low- and middle-income countries. Included in the technologies licensed is the SARS-CoV-2 stabilized spike protein–a patented invention included in multiple COVID-19 vaccines.

C-TAP aims to boost global supply of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for COVID-19 by facilitating the sharing of intellectual property, knowledge and data with quality-assured manufacturers that have the capacity to scale up production.

The announcement was made Thursday at the second Global COVID-19 Summit, co-hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal.

WHY THIS MATTERS

“Controlling COVID-19 globally and addressing future public health threats is only possible if all communities, including the most vulnerable, have access to lifesaving treatments, vaccines and diagnostics,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Sharing our scientific knowledge and health technologies with C-TAP to foster the development of crucial medical countermeasures is another step we are taking to assist our global partners in our shared fight against this devastating disease.”

The agreement will allow for greater access to these technologies with the aim of leading to the development of commercial products that can address current and future public health needs. In most circumstances, NIH will not collect royalties on sales of products licensed in 49 countries classified by the United Nations as Least Developed Countries.

THE LARGER TREND

The United States is marking the milestone of a million deaths from COVID-19. 

Cases are rising again in the U.S. due to Omicron variants. Hospitalizations are also rising, though not at the same rate as seen with the Delta variant, or at the beginning of the pandemic when vaccines were not yet available.

As providers and others question the end of the Public Health Emergency in mid-July, and next week’s deadline for a 60-day notice period, experts have made clear that while the pandemic is entering a new phase, it is not over, particularly as a global issue.

Around the world, 2,000 people are dying of COVID-19 daily and more than 3 billion people – mostly in poorer countries, remain unvaccinated, according to Dr. David Dowdy, associate professor, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought issues of health equity into greater focus.

At the HIMSS22 Global Conference in March, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure tied interoperability and a data connected healthcare system to the ability to achieve health equity.

ON THE RECORD

“NIH scientists have developed innovative COVID-19 research tools, vaccines and diagnostics. While NIH cannot commercialize these early-stage technologies, we can share our knowledge wherever feasible to support our global partners,” said Acting NIH Director Lawrence A. Tabak. “NIH’s contributions to C-TAP provide a piece of the technology puzzle to help global manufacturers advance development of COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. I hope NIH’s actions will inspire other rights holders to do the same.”

 

 
 

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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