Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic for IP Licensing Practices in Vaccine Production
- Project status
The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented levels of innovation and collaboration in the life science sector along the entire medical technology value chain, including research, development, medical regulation, production, procurement, distribution, and responsible use of technologies (see Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation, WHO, WIPO, WTO, 2020).
Life science companies and their public sector partners were able to produce and supply vaccines at unprecedented speed and, ultimately, on a global scale. As of 21 February 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker and Landscape reports 180 novel coronavirus vaccine candidates in clinical development and 199 in pre-clinical development.
Intellectual property (IP) licensing practices have played a critical role in this success, and also sometimes contributing to failures, by facilitating the sharing of (or blocking access to) patented inventions, regulatory data, know-how and trade secrets, leading in turn to technology transfer, production, and supply of COVID-19 vaccines internationally.
The aim of the research is to identify solutions to the complex question of how best to scale up vaccine manufacturing and supply, while improving access and affordability. To achieve this, the research will draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic by analysing the role that IP licensing practices have played in enabling or hindering vaccine production and supply. In this way, the research will aim to contribute positively to the policy debate about future pandemic preparedness and response underway in the G7 and internationally at the WHO, where a Pandemic Preparedness Treaty is currently being negotiated.
Research team: Professor Duncan Matthews (Queen Mary University of London), Professor Ken Shadlen (The London School of Economics and Political Science), Professor Esther van Zimmeran (University of Antwerp), Dr. Żaneta Zemła-Pacud (Polish Academy of Sciences) and Professor Timo Minssen (University of Copenhagen)