The EU and member states are working together to find safe and effective vaccines to counter the spread of COVID-19. Focus is being put on developing a prophylactic vaccine to prevent the disease and a therapeutic vaccine to be used for treatment. Accelerated regulatory procedures are being put in place so that marketing authorizations of safe, effective and high-quality COVID-19 related medicines can be granted as soon as possible.
On 4 May, the EU inaugurated a global action the so-called Coronavirus Global Response through a pledging event, which has raised more than 9,5 billion Euros to boost the work on vaccines, diagnostics and treatments against the virus.
Commenting on the way that European Union will choose to ensure the intellectual property rights for the vaccines and the treatment of the virus, during such a fatal pandemic, Alexis Georgoulis, Member of the European Parliament addressed an urgent question to the Commission, underlining that: “We need to ensure the right to health - within and outside the EU - without any discrimination. If one is not safe, then no one is safe”.
Exact question text appears below:
The whole world is anxiously waiting for the vaccine, the treatment as well as for effective and rapid tests for the COVID-19. The complex protection system of intellectual property rights has created fierce competition among the pharmaceutical companies, which, through patents, will be able to set the terms of access to treatment and prevention. The main solution will be voluntary and case-by-case licensing agreements.
Therefore, it is necessary that all legal exceptions in favour of public health to be interpreted as widely as possible and in such a way that the world population will be safeguarded. Because if one is not safe, then no one is safe.
We ask the Commission:
1. Has it drafted any plan to prevent exclusivity in respect to patents?
2. As regards the funding agreements that it concludes with companies and research centers, has it ensured that the intellectual property rights will not prevent licensing and access to the research results of the COVID health products?
3. Is it going to use the article 31bis of TRIPS agreement and derogate from the respective articles of the Free Trade Agreements that it has signed, in order to export, without additional burdens, vaccines, tests and the treatment to states that are not able to produce them?