NIH grants WHO key license for Covid vaccine technology so other countries can develop vaccines – Reuters

President Joe Biden said Thursday that the United States has licensed to the World Health Organization a key technology used in current Covid-19 vaccines that will allow manufacturers around the world to work with the World Health Agency to develop their own vaccines. . against the virus.

The National Institutes of Health has licensed its breakthrough WHO stabilized protein technology and the pool of patents for United Nations drugs, Biden said.

Spike protein is a component of vaccines that elicits an immune response, prompting the body to fight the virus. NIH technology supports proteins in such a configuration that allows them to enhance the immune response. The WHO and the Patent Pool of Medicines can now sublicense technology to generic manufacturers around the world.

“We are making available medical technologies owned by the United States government, including stabilized thorn protein, which is used in many Covid-19 vaccines,” Biden said.

The decision to share the vaccine technology was made ahead of a virtual global summit on Covid-19, which the United States is jointly holding on Thursday. A statement from the WHO said the license would make important technology available to people in low- and middle-income countries and help end the pandemic.

Although the technology shared by the United States is important, it is only one component of the vaccine and does not contain the complete information RNA code needed to inject. The NIH and Moderna, which worked together to develop a taxpayer-funded vaccine, are currently arguing over a separate patent for an mRNA kit. Vaccines introduce an mRNA code that directs human cells to produce harmless copies of the virus’s protein to elicit an immune response.

According to the health agency, negotiations between the NIH and Moderna to resolve this dispute are ongoing. The outcome of the dispute will have serious implications for technology sharing. White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters in March that the United States is likely to clear the mRNA sequence if the Moderna dispute is resolved in favor of the NIH.

“Everything we can do, we will do,” Fauci said when asked to share the mRNA code if the NIH wins the dispute. Minister of Health and Social Services Xavier Beserra said during the same call that the United States “will push the boundaries where the law allows us” to share technology.

The WHO has repeatedly called on vaccine manufacturers to share know-how, but Pfizer and Moderna have refused to license the underlying technology for their vaccines to the Patent Pool of Medicines. However, Moderna does not enforce its patents in 92 poorer countries. Although Pfizer does not share this technology, it provides the US government with 1 billion doses to donate to poorer countries.

WHO is bringing together vaccine manufacturers to set up a production center in South Africa to produce vaccines based on the RNA information technology that Pfizer and Moderna use in their vaccines. South African scientists are making general copies of the Moderna vaccine based on publicly available information, as the biotechnology company does not enforce its patents.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhan Gebreyesus called on Moderna’s shareholders to vote in favor of a resolution calling for an independent inquiry into the feasibility of technology transfer at the biotech company’s annual meeting.

“If Moderna worked with us, we could submit the central vaccine for approval at least a year earlier, which would save lives, reduce the risk of options and reduce the economic damage from the pandemic,” Tedros said.

The United States is also contributing an additional $ 200 million to the World Bank Pandemic Preparedness Fund for a total contribution of $ 450 million and an additional $ 20 million through the United States Agency for International Development to support the deployment of Covid and antivirus tests in eight countries. The White House has said it is also expanding its vaccine donations through Pfizer to include booster doses and injections for children.

These donations are far from the $ 5 billion that the White House has requested from Congress to support vaccination worldwide. Congress has failed to meet Biden’s broader request for $ 22.5 billion in Covid funding due to opposition from Republicans who oppose such spending.

In April, senators reached a $ 10 billion agreement on Covid funding, which did not include funds for a global vaccination campaign. Republicans blocked the Senate from transferring $ 10 billion in controversy over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end a controversial policy that sent asylum seekers across the country back to Mexico as a health measure known as Chapter 42.