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Oct 06, 2021 / 17:43

Vietnam calls for waiving Covid-19 vaccine patents

Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver aims to facilitate the manufacture of treatments locally and boost the global vaccination campaign.

Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat has called for patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines for the acceleration and expansion of vaccine manufacturing on a global scale.

Dat was speaking on the sideline of the annual Science and Technology in Society Forum hosted virtually by Japan, under the theme “Global Perspectives on the Post-Covid-19 World”.

The Vietnamese minister put forth the necessity to create platforms to share patent information, scientific papers, data, and research instruments to help developing countries have access to and catch up with global scientific and technological development trends.

The Covid-19 pandemic puts humanity in front of a life-and-death issue, Dat noted, adding that the pandemic is presenting unprecedented challenges to humanity, requiring extraordinary measures.

From Vietnam’s experience, he said, to ensure early and equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine, it is necessary to fast-track peer reviews, encourage experimentation and accept failures while promoting the spirit of open science and innovation.

Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat speaks at the virtual roundtable of the Science and Technology in Society Forum. Photo: The Ministry of Science and Technology

The minister also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in coping with the pandemic towards ensuring rapid and equal access to vaccines, drugs, and treatment methods as well as managing possible risks due to new variants.

Earlier, Vietnam’s foreign ministry in May called for countries to share information and lift patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines to make them available to everyone.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang, responding to inquiries about Vietnam's stance on waiving patent rights to the Covid-19 vaccine, said:

“Vietnam is currently carrying out research and development of domestic Covid-19 vaccines. Covid-19 vaccines developed by the country are expected to be mass-produced in 2022. We are staying proactive in securing vaccine sources and maintaining medical security to prepare for potential pandemics in the future," Hang stressed.

Vietnam is currently developing four domestic Covid-19 vaccine candidates: Nanocovax by Nanogen, Covivac by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and two others by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No.1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

Vietnam has already rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination campaign since March. The country aims to secure 150 million vaccine doses in total to cover 70% of its population.

Importance of vaccine patents waiver

On May 5, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that Washington supports the lifting of patent protection on Covid-19 vaccines to end the pandemic, despite the importance of such patents for pharma businesses.

The US’s proposal has received support from over 120 countries and territories.

The landmark proposal, which was jointly submitted by India and South Africa last October, has been backed by more than 100 mostly developing countries. It aims to facilitate the manufacture of treatments locally and boost the global vaccination campaign.

The urgency and importance of waiving certain intellectual property rights amid the pandemic have been underscored by the World Health Organization, health experts, civil society groups, trade unions, former world leaders, international medical charities, Nobel laureates, and human rights organizations.