Last Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that it supports waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. However, the ultimate decision will require a consensus of all 164 members of the World Trade Organization. MassBio’s EVP Zach Stanley issued the statement below in response to the news:
“The Biden Administration’s decision to support the TRIPS waiver is unnecessary, and has the potential to make the global COVID-19 response worse. Current projections show that global manufacturing capacity continues to grow and should reach or exceed 10 billion doses before the end of 2021.
“There is a clear pathway forward for the Biden Administration that does not require this extreme step: continue to partner with industry, governments, non-profits, and others to ensure a sufficient global supply of vaccines, ensure safe and expeditious global access to vaccines and therapeutics, and establish ongoing efforts to help global healthcare systems address COVID-19.
“There’s no evidence that intellectual property rights are hindering the global response to the pandemic despite the political and well-intentioned rhetoric. Intellectual property is the foundation of the life sciences industry.
“Waiving intellectual property rights – even in these extreme circumstances – will forever change the innovation system that has made the U.S. the world leader in the development of new medicines.
“Actions like expediting the exportation of raw materials and quickly identifying bottlenecks that are hindering the global vaccine supply chain will pay larger near- and long-term benefits while global vaccine makers do everything they can to safely and predictably increase global supply.”
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new effort to “increase access to COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, including testing and vaccinations, among disproportionately affected communities.” More information about this initiative can be found, here.
On Tuesday at 10am, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing entitled “An Update from Federal Officials on Efforts to Combat COVID-19.” The witnesses for this hearing include Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; David Kessler, MD, Chief Science Officer, COVID Response, United States Department of Health and Human Services; Peter Marks, MD, Ph.D., Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, United States Food and Drug Administration; and Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Massachusetts, the State Senate will release its Fiscal Year 2022 budget recommendations on Tuesday at 1pm. Senators will have until 2pm on Friday, May 14th to file amendments. Additionally, Massachusetts’ mass vaccination sites at Hynes Convention Center, Reggie Lewis Center, the Natick Mall, the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, the former Circuit City in Dartmouth, and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield are expected to begin offering COVID-19 vaccines on a walk-in basis starting Monday. This news comes as more than 4 million adults in Massachusetts have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Also, beginning Monday, Massachusetts moves into the next stage of its reopening plan, allowing amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks to operate at 50 percent capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health, and increasing the capacity for large indoor and outdoor venues from 12 percent to 25 percent. Additionally, youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for sports deemed moderate- and high-risk, and road races and other large, outdoor organized group athletic events can take place with staggered starts, after organizers submit safety plans to state or local health officials.