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WHO initiative signs new licensing agreements on COVID-19 technologies

© WHO / Medicines Patent Pool / Rodger Bosch
On 10 February 2022, a view of a laboratory at Biovac in Cape Town, South Africa. The company is the first manufacturing spoke for the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub.
© WHO / Medicines Patent Pool / Rodger Bosch On 10 February 2022, a view of a laboratory at Biovac in Cape Town, South Africa. The company is the first manufacturing spoke for the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub.

The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a multi-stakeholder partnership to facilitate sharing of intellectual property (IP), knowledge and innovations has announced three new licensing agreements acquired through the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The agreements include the following licenses to transfer know-how, materials and clinical data needed in different countries:     

  • Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp, the first private manufacturer, is offering its patent and know-how for a COVID-19 vaccine that has seen more than three million doses administered across seven countries.  It is the first time that a vaccine manufacturer is using the WHO C-TAP model - a win-win opportunity for the manufacturer, recipients of the technology and, most importantly, patients in need around the world. The agreement will enable licensing of IP facilitating technology transfer and staff training.
  • Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is sharing a second license for a COVID-19 vaccine prototype. The agreement includes plant visits and training, direct assistance and ongoing consultation with recipient manufacturers, including on quality and regulatory matters.
  • The University of Chile is sharing its technology for a COVID-19 assay for quantification of neutralizing antibodies.

 C-TAP was launched in May 2020 by the WHO and the Government of Costa Rica with the support of 44 Member States, UN Development Programme, Unitaid, UNAIDS, and implementing partners such as MPP.  It works under the principles of the Solidarity call to action and was designed to serve as a platform for developers of COVID-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, vaccines and other health products to voluntarily share their intellectual property, knowledge, and data to accelerate technological innovation and expand global production capacity.

 C-TAP was acknowledged as an important tool  in the 2021 “ Local Production Resolution”  to facilitate sustainable access to quality-assured, safe, effective and affordable medicines and other health technologies. Furthermore, it has played an important role in raising awareness of the role of technology and knowledge sharing and access-oriented voluntary licensing.  

“COVID-19 is here to stay, and the world will continue to need tools to prevent it, test for it and treat it,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Through C-TAP, WHO and our partners are committed to making those tools accessible to everyone, everywhere. I am grateful to the leadership shown by those license holders who have contributed technology.”

Charles Gore, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool said: “Access to essential medicines and health technologies needs to remain a top priority on the global health agenda. We congratulate Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp, CSIC and the University of Chile for licensing their products to MPP and hope it will send an important message to other originators around the world to enter into further licence agreements under the auspices of C-TAP.” 

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic only two public health R&D Institutes -- the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the US National Institute of Health (NIH) decided to share their key COVID-19 technologies with C-TAP. 

Addition of the three new licenses now provides an important boost to the overall effort. The new licenses are global, transparent and non-exclusive to all manufacturers and are accessible on the C-TAP website. Importantly, the first license, on a serological test, resulted in a sub license to Biotech Africa from CSIC to develop their diagnostic technology.

C-TAP has also established a Technology Access Pool database that provides a searchable repository. With a principle of transparency, this publicly available database will support coordination and will link to other data sharing platforms where clinical, regulatory, patent, and manufacturers data is available for selected technologies.  WHO is preparing to share findings of the review of C-TAP and a proposed model for an evolved technology access pool. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide comments on a concept paper including the process and timelines for its implementation.

Quotes from the organizations signing new C-TAP licenses 
  • Charles Chen, CEO of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. stated, "We believe that the most effective response to a pandemic must be rooted in solidarity, cooperation, and collective global effort. By joining the C-TAP initiative, we are providing equitable access to our vaccine technology. It underscores our commitment to ensure that vaccines reach all corners of the globe, leaving no one behind. This is not just about COVID-19, it is about setting a precedent for future global health challenges. By demonstrating our commitment to open science and cooperative strategies. We hope to inspire other organizations to follow suit. To all those that trusted, participated, collaborated, and supported us, thank you! For without you, we could not make this C-TAP initiative possible.”
  • University of Chile Rector, Professor Dr. Rosa Devés Alessandri, said, “For the University of Chile, the achievement of our scientists, is a source of pride and an encouragement for the advancement of biomedical research in our country. It shows how excellent research carried out internationally has the capacity to offer solutions with a high social impact in the field of health. We thank all the organisations that have made it possible for the University of Chile to contribute to global health".
  • Eloisa del Pino, President of CSIC said ‘This licensing agreement with C-TAP opens the possibility of finding partners in third countries to advance clinical trials with this vaccine as a future alternative to licensed COVID vaccine options worldwide, especially in resource-poor countries.”


About C-TAP  

C-TAP was launched in 2020 by the WHO Director-General and the President of Costa Rica, and supported by 44 Member States, to facilitate timely, equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 health products through transparent, public health oriented, non-exclusive and broad licensing agreements.

WHO technical teams support by providing assessment of technologies to technology givers and receivers. This includes the recently launched WHO-Unitaid  briefing document to support how to navigate interfaces between public health and intellectual property. 

About MPP  

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is a United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to and facilitate the development of life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries. Through its innovative business model, MPP partners with civil society, governments, international organisations, industry, patient groups, and other stakeholders to prioritise and license needed medicines and pool intellectual property to encourage generic manufacture and the development of new formulations.


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