- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2020

A group of thirty countries from around the world kicked off a joint initiative Friday aimed at sharing medicines, vaccines, and data to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by Costa Rica, the group’s goal is to provide a “one-stop-shop” for the developing nations to access scientific information and intellectual property related to COVID-19, Reuters reported.

“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” said Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado.

The World Health Organization praised the group’s establishment, and called on the international community to voluntarily pool knowledge related to COVID-19.

“Shared knowledge, intellectual property and data will leverage our collective efforts to advance scientific discovery, technology development and broad sharing of the benefits of scientific advancement and its applications based on the right to health,” the WHO said.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, countries around the world have called for a joint response and information sharing as nations have struggled to combat the spread of the virus, but many western nations have remained independent in the race to develop a widely accessible vaccine.

The group, dubbed the “COVID-19 Technology Access Pool,” has received praise from organizations including Doctors Without Borders, it has been questioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, which claims the premise of the group could compromise intellectual property protections.

“By urging licenses or non-enforcement declarations for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to be granted on a non-exclusive global basis, the Solidarity Call to Action promotes a one-size-fits-all model that disregards the specific circumstances of each situation, each product and each country,” the IFPMA said in a statement Friday.

“Different regions and countries will face different challenges regarding the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Any access tools, including patent licensing mechanisms, should therefore allow for customized solutions to real-world problems that may arise,” they continued.

The countries involved in the pact include Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, The Netherlands, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Zimbabwe.

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