Vaccine manufacturers race to test vaccine efficacy against new variant.
In the wake of the annoucement of the Omicron variant of SARC-Vov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Biden called on nations expected to meet at the World Trade Organization next week to agree to waive intellectual property protections for vaccines.
However, the meeting he was referring to was later postponed after the new variant led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many participants from reaching Geneva. read more
“The news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations,” Biden said in a statement.
“This news today reiterates the importance of moving on this (waiving intellectual property protections) quickly.”
And while Biden may be willing to waive the patents, its going to take a lot more effort for the waivers to go forward.
The WTO [World Trade Organization] is a consensus-based organization and cannot move forward unless the European Union, which is against the waiver, and everyone else agrees. Once all WTO members agree, the next steps would be for countries to implement it at the national level by removing legal risks that hinder production and supply by alternative producers. To clarify these implementation options, countries must start text-based negotiations at the WTO, going through each item of the complex and multilayered IP legal requirements — a process that could take months, or even years.
“I’m not going to put odds on how likely it is to find an agreement,” said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell, summarizing the WTO closed-door General Council meeting on the TRIPS waiver Wednesday.
But he said there was consensus on the need for wider access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
“When people begin to voice very clearly their share objectives, it makes it easier to get to ‘yes,’ ” Rockwell said.
Meanwhile, vaccine manufacturers are racing to see if their vaccines are effective against Omicron.
Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson have confirmed plans to test their vaccines against the Omicron coronavirus variant. These announcements come as the new variant is confirmed to have 32 possible mutations in the spike protein, which is the part of the virus that many vaccines try to attack. All three companies have commenced testing against the strain, which is projected to be up to 500 percent more transmissible than any other variant seen since the pandemic began.
“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant [Omicron],” said BioNTech in a statement. The company explained that data from the tests will be available in at least two weeks, saying that the data “will provide more information about whether [Omicron] could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally.”
Even if the vaccines are effective against the new variant, it is quite clear that vaccine efficacy wanes over time for the other variants. Why would this one be any different?
Perhaps, in the wake of this development, Big Pharma might take more interest in creating effective therapeutics….which I assert is the best ticket out of COVID insanity.DONATE
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