COVID-19 Vaccine Watch: Appeals made for support on proposal regarding intellectual property

If it is adopted on December 16, IP rights on production and supply of COVID-19 tools will be waived off

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 15 December 2020
COVID-19 Vaccine Watch: Appeals made for support on proposal regarding intellectual property. Photo:

International civil society organisations December 15, 2020, appealed to all countries to support waiving off intellectual property (IP) rights on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tools.

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) general council December 16, 2020, will be taking up the proposal put forward by India and South Africa.  

If adopted, the proposal would allow countries to not implement IP rights that civil society groups allege “impede the production and supply of COVID-19 medical tools and facilitate quicker and better collaboration for needed development, production and supply, without being restricted by corporate interests and actions.” 

More than 100 countries have already supported the proposal.

Sanofi vaccine production delayed

A vaccine candidate being jointly developed by GlaxoSmithKline plc and Sanofi SA has delayed its production of vaccines. The interim results posted December 15 did not give encouraging results, especially in the older population.

The official statement said the vaccine would not be available for public use before 2021. “Insufficient response in older adults demonstrates the need to refine the concentration of antigen in order to provide high-level immune response across all age groups,” the statement read and added the vaccine would be reformulated.

Adverse events management 

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has said it would ensure during the COVID-19 vaccination drive that every site was linked to at least one health facility that specialised in dealing with side-effects or adverse events following immunisation (AEFI).

Each block will have one AEFI management site. Public health centres, community health centres or district hospitals can act as AEFI management centres. Each site will have an AEFI management kit.

The head of the Union government’s expert group on vaccines VK Paul said this was going to be the first mass adult immunisation programme in the country. So far, AEFI monitoring has been done for immunisation programmes that involve children and pregnant women. Therefore, the AEFI occurring during COVID-19 vaccination may ‘have different nuances’ and would be keenly looked into.

Emergency approval for vaccines

There is no clarity still as to when the subject expert committee (SEC) of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) will meet next to take a decision on recommending an emergency use authorisation to vaccines of Serum Institute of India, Pfizer and Bharat Biotech.

However, Paul said the delay will not impact the vaccine rollout timeline because such delays have already been factored in while deciding these timelines. Last week, the SEC decision was deferred.

Vaccination preparations 

The MoHFW also informed that the online and / or physical training programmes for COVID-19 vaccinators had already taken off. Training modules for other human resources involved in the programme — medical officers, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers and accredited social health activists had been finalised. 

India’s mRNA vaccine, that is being developed by Gennova in collaboration with the Centre’s department of biotechnology, can be stored at normal refrigeration temperature. This is unlike the Pfizer vaccine, that also uses mRNA platform and requires storage at minus 70 degrees celsius. The vaccine candidate was permitted to embark on human trials last week by the CDSCO. 

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