WHO, WIPO, WTO call for innovation and cooperation to support timely access to pandemic products

Dec. 22, 2022
Summary from The Joint Technical Symposium.

The Joint Technical Symposium held on December 16 by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) highlighted that the world can move quickly when driven by a crisis situation, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation is a key factor to foster innovation and timely equitable access to health products – for COVID-19 and in preparation for future pandemics.

The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa and Professor of Global Health, Columbia University. He reviewed developments during the pandemic from a scientific perspective and discussed possible ways forward with regard to pandemic preparedness and response. He noted that though we have reached a widespread immunity from vaccination and natural infection which has reduced hospitalization and severe illness, the virus continues to spread, creating an ever-present risk of unpredictable new variants.

The opening was followed by two panel discussions. The first panel – moderated by Ms. Anabel González, WTO Deputy Director-General – discussed the key global challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring speakers from the South Centre, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Gilead Sciences, the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The second panel - moderated by Ms. Hanan Hassan O Balky, WHO Assistant Director-General, Access to Medicines and Health Products Division – discussed how to respond to, and recover from, the health crisis generated by COVID-19, as well as build resilience against future pandemics. Speakers represented the European Commission's Health and Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, Argentina's Ministry of Health, Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, the WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (WHO INB), Developing Countries Vaccines Manufacturers Network (DCVMN), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Oxfam International. 

Mr. Edward Kwakwa, Assistant Director General, Global Challenges and Partnerships Sector, WIPO, summarized the day’s discussions stating that pandemic preparedness and response will depend on harnessing the innovative and creative capacities of all people. The sharing of technology and know-how, geographical diversification of manufacturing, supply chain security, smooth regulatory approval processes, pooling of procurement and financing and a balanced global IP and innovation ecosystem that helps to ensure equitable access for all to health technologies were referred to as key elements to be better prepared for future pandemics. A Trilateral Symposium does not end with joint conclusions or recommendations.  It opens a forum for discussion.  It enables the exchange of diverse viewpoints.

For further information about the program, speakers and video recordings, please visit the organizations webpages: WHO, WIPO and WTO. 

WHO release

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