WHO initiative signs new licensing agreements on COVID-19 technologies

  • 4 Sep 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Brian Otieno

The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a multi-stakeholder partnership to facilitate the 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. 

The 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 manufacturer 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.