NEW YORK, MARCH 4, 2022—The Biden administration recently announced that it will share some COVID-19 vaccine, treatment, and diagnostics technologies developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. This decision could help scale up the production of COVID-19 medical tools all over the world that are needed to curb the spread of the virus and save countless lives.
Throughout the pandemic, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has urged companies with important COVID-19 technologies, like those that serve as the backbone of mRNA vaccines, to share them with other producers around the world that stand ready to help expand the global supply. MSF has also demanded that governments like the US that funded the development of these technologies compel companies to share them widely.
Mihir Mankad, MSF-USA senior advisor for global health advocacy and policy, said of the announcement:
"The Biden administration's plan to share new COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics technologies with the World Health Organization is a welcome step in the continued fight to protect everyone, everywhere against the virus.
“We are hopeful that this decision means many more products that are currently in the pipeline will be made available to people sooner. This will give low- and middle-income countries the tools they need to become more self-sufficient and prepared to handle current and future pandemics.
"If this proves to be the case, Biden's plan could serve as a lifesaving precedent and pave the way for more publicly funded medical tools to be made available to people everywhere.
"COVID-19 remains a global crisis that affects many of our patients every day. Fewer than 14 percent of people in low-income countries have received even a single dose of a vaccine. Supply of most oral treatments that are easy to use in low-resource settings has already been bought up by wealthy countries like the US, and tests remain in short supply.
“We know there is no reason for this scarcity. There are hundreds of producers that stand ready to help meet the global need as soon as they have access to the needed technology and know-how.
“As of yet, the products to which this announcement applies is unclear, and likely excludes products that are already on the market—including the NIH-supported Moderna mRNA vaccine and Cepheid’s COVID-19 tests. We urge the Biden administration to continue to use its leverage to demand companies currently making COVID-19 tools also take immediate action to expand global access.”