The world of Pharmaceuticals is caught in the web of who brings out the vaccine and when scenario. The darkest hours that the world has been a witness to are from the last 10 months. However, every day, there is a ray of hope which pushes us to believe that all this is soon going to end the way it should be. The much-awaited invention of a COVID-19 vaccine that gets us back on to our feet is hopefully around the corner.
As we pen this down, Pfizer and BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca have all shown much promise in going the right way. The clinical trials efficacy of each of them is a testament to their success. Pharmaceutical companies have invested big time in research and development that will result in effective and to the point manufacturing during the course of this pandemic.
According to Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, “Patent protection shouldn’t be lifted when it comes to building a dose as complex as this. If at all that happens, the quality assurance may take a big hit due to the involvement of the lesser expert staff as well non-compliances of the benchmarking practices”. He further adds that there is a strong probability of almost 10 vaccines coming out by next summer, but all that has to happen with rigorous, transparent and scientific scrutiny of the processes undertaken.
It is well to be noted that at the WTO level, countries such as India, South Africa have already proposed a temporary waiver when it comes to compulsory licensing for patented products. However, there has been strong opposition by USA, EU & Switzerland in this regard.
Cueni says that “There is no doubt a lot of politics is involved in this gamut of Intellectual Property and it shows a sort of disrespect to the entire pharmaceutical system that has developed with time. A minimum number of 50 quality assurance staff are required in carrying out effective monitoring and there are around hundreds of checks during the entire production process. There has never been an instance of a compulsory license being granted for a vaccine during a pandemic or otherwise and every member of the pharmaceutical fraternity have committed to a not-for-profit and socially responsible pricing matrix for COVID-19”.