Research for a corona vaccine in Russia (archive image)
Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr / DPA
In the fight against the coronavirus, the entire world population should have access to future vaccines, drugs and therapies, regardless of income.
16 global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies have committed to this in a joint statement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We will take a number of approaches to make products that we develop or support affordable in lower-income countries," said the communiqué signed by CEOs and Bill and Melinda Gates this Wednesday.
There must be a fair distribution worldwide.
For example, clinical studies are to be expanded and also include low-income countries.
The products should be developed in such a way that they are affordable.
Donations should be included in future pricing, non-profit provision, or tiered pricing based on the needs and capabilities of each country.
"We will also use our collective voice, along with other global health actors, to work to strengthen health systems and distribution networks so that critical innovations can reach everyone who needs them," the companies write.
At the beginning of the year, the pharmaceutical and life science companies joined the "Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator", which the Bill- & Melinda Gates Foundation launched to fight the pandemic. Together, the companies want to develop, manufacture and Accelerate the supply of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. German companies such as Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck KGaA, as well as Swiss companies Roche and Novartis, from Great Britain Astra Zeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, and French companies Sanofi and BioMérieux are also involved USA includes Merck & Co, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Gilead as well as Bristol Myers Squibb, from Japan Eisai.
Threat to communities worldwide
The existence of Covid-19 poses a threat to communities around the world, the companies now write.
Only through collective action could the health, social and economic impacts be addressed.
Several rich countries have already secured contracts with vaccine manufacturers.
The federal government has invested millions of euros in the manufacturer Curevac, while the US is pumping money into the vaccine developer Moderna.
Dozens of vaccine candidates are already in the running.
It is unclear where success will be achieved.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates
Photo: POOL New / REUTERS
Bill Gates also supports vaccine development for companies such as Moderna and Curevac through the Gates Foundation, which works to improve healthcare worldwide.
But he has already admitted that their vaccines are likely to be too expensive for poorer countries.
"It is unlikely that we can use these vaccines on a large scale in developing countries, if only because of the cost," Gates told SPIEGEL.
"Of course I hope they will protect. But they are probably not the big solution. If you look at where we are spending our money in connection with this pandemic, it is more at AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Sanofi. They can make billions of cans. "
Prefer people at risk and medical personnel
The companies emphasize in their communiqué that it is not only poorer countries that should be able to benefit from vaccines and therapeutics, but also medical staff and people at particular risk.
An "evidence-based setting of priorities" in distribution is supported for such groups of people, regardless of the country in which they live.
The Covax mechanism of the World Health Organization should be supported, which should ensure a globally fair distribution.
This runs counter to strategic interests, as recently underpinned by the USA and China, which Covax do not support.
Observers conclude from this that the countries want to secure possible vaccines first and foremost for their own country.
In their statement, the companies pledged to develop solutions as quickly as possible, "much earlier than usual".
At the same time, however, the strictest scientific and ethical standards must be adhered to in product development and manufacturing processes.
This is "still the top priority over speed or politics".
Now, above all, appropriate regulatory and liability processes are needed, for example in the approval process in all countries, emphasized the companies.
Further financing is also necessary.
In this way it is also possible to build a pandemic preparedness ecosystem for the next occurrence of a pandemic.
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