While the US President is calling for the suspension of patents on COVID-19 vaccines, UNESCO experts are quietly working on a more ambitious plan
In a meeting on Tuesday, diplomats and legal and technical experts from UNESCO member states are trying to draw new global guidelines under a project called Open Science.
“The crisis put a spotlight on the production, sharing, communication of scientific information,” said Ana Faric, head of the science policy section at Paris-based UNESCO. “This is a change for the scientific community.”
The Open Science Dialogue aims to come up with a “soft law” by the end of this year, using it as a guide for governments to establish science policies and systematically share data, software and research across borders May, Persia said.
Suspending a vaccine patent is more sensitive than a genome or testing protocol because it involves heavy investment and commercial concerns, Persia acknowledged. Discussions on the patent issue are concentrated in the World Trade Organization, not in UNESCO, and they are far from reaching a consensus.
European leaders say that increasing patent protection will not solve the problem of people in poor countries shooting weapons. Instead, they are pushing for more immediate action, such as urging the US to export vaccine supplements that have already been produced.
But Persic told The Associated Press that “in times of emergency or crisis, there may be a way to lift those patents … protect data in a certain way, and still share it.” “
UNESCO Director General Audrey Azole said in a statement that lifting patent protection for the coronavirus vaccine could save millions of lives and serve as a blueprint for the future of scientific collaboration. COVID-19 does not respect boundaries. No country will be safe as long as the people of each country do not have vaccine facilities. “
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