NEW YORK/GENEVA, MAY 29, 2020—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomed today's launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Call to Action for equitable global access to COVID-19 health technologies through sharing of knowledge, intellectual property, and data. Sharing this type of information will allow more manufacturers to quickly produce medical tools to fight COVID-19 and make sure more people have access to them.
Multiple heads of state have referred to products to fight COVID-19 as "global public goods." Governments must now make commitments to follow through on making sure this becomes a reality. As an international medical humanitarian organization responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in more than 70 countries, MSF is calling on governments to stand with patients and frontline workers to adopt enforceable measures that bind parties to any agreement to ensure access to COVID-19 products for everyone.
"Safe and effective vaccines, treatments, and tests must be developed free from exclusive rights, produced in adequate quantities, distributed fairly, and made available to all people—especially the most vulnerable—in all countries and free of charge at the point of care," said Dr. Christos Christou, MSF's international president. "While the WHO Solidarity Call is an important step, it will require effective implementation and enforceable measures to guarantee access to both existing and future COVID-19 technologies for everyone. Now is not the time to allow business-as-usual approaches from pharmaceutical corporations and near-sighted nationalism from governments to stand in the way of global cooperation on medical tools to respond to this pandemic. COVID-19 will not be over until it is over for everyone."
Global shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lack of testing capacity and effective treatments to respond to COVID-19 have placed enormous strain on countries and treatment providers worldwide. This must not be allowed to happen with new vaccines, treatments, and tests once they hit the market. Failing to ensure broad access to these types of products will prolong the pandemic for everyone.