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The U.S. administration plans to share government-backed COVID-19 technology with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help low and middle-income nations access treatments, according to a report by Washington Post.
During a press briefing on March 3rd, Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra and chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci – who is also director of the NIAID – both confirmed that the U.S. was looking into licensing COVID-19 medical technologies owned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access pool (C-TAP).
Becerra and Fauci were unable to provide specific details on this new policy.
According to Fauci, the details of this plan are still being “ironed out.” The technologies will be sub-licensed through the Medicines Patent Pool, a Switzerland-based international organization aimed at enhancing access to medicines for low and middle-income countries.
“We’re still in early stages,” said Becerra. “This latest announcement is an effort to try to let low and middle-income countries know that we want them to have capacities as well.”
When asked if the U.S. plans on licensing the technology for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Becerra said they would “push the envelope where the law allows us.” The federal government is currently engaged in a dispute with Moderna over who can name themselves as the inventors of the vaccine on the patent application.
Moderna’s vaccine was produced really quickly also because it had benefited from the help and collaboration of NIH researchers. The NIH is seeking to have some of its researchers included on a patent for the mRNA sequence of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. Moderna is arguing that they should be excluded, saying its own researchers independently developed the sequence.
“They’re still in the negotiation of what one might call a patent dispute,” Fauci said on March 3rd. “They’ve been held in abeyance now because everybody’s focusing on responding to the outbreak itself. We really cannot speak about any aspects of that. “
Today’s sick care and reactive healthcare system is broken. Healthcare must transform itself to proactively support individuals before the onset of disease and to offset the declining numbers of primary care doctors. 6 in 10 adults in America live with chronic disease. The cost of healthcare in the United States is 2x that of other countries globally, representing almost 17% of GDP, yet, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund, the United States overall healthcare system still ranks last among other developed, high-income nations, and Canada is not far behind with second last position.
The COVID crisis showed all the healthcare system’s flaws more than ever. COVID vaccines and treatments reached people differently in relation to their access at a reliable healthcare support.
So, developing new, easy to access treatments, is very important, and the decision to share treatments with other nations might prove decisive for more people to gain access to medicines.
Late last year, pharmaceutical giant Merck submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize its pills to treat COVID-19. This new drug could add an easy-to-use way to treat the disease. If cleared by the FDA, it would be the first oral drug with government approval to treat COVID-19. Every other FDA-backed treatment requires an injection or an IV.
The experimental antiviral pill could be taken at home and is purported to reduce symptoms and speed recovery. Proponents say it could ease the perceived COVID caseloads in U.S. hospitals. Not only that, they say it could help to curb outbreaks of the illness in disadvantaged countries with poor health care systems. Proponents also think it could help bolster the goals of prevention and treatment, by using pharmaceutical drugs.
The company’s preliminary results indicate that molnupiravir can reduce by half hospitalizations and deaths for people with early COVID-19 symptoms. However, those results have not been peer-reviewed, which has traditionally been standard practice for drug research.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was appointed Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984. He oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.
In a 2021 analysis of Google Scholar citations, Dr. Fauci ranked as the 35th most-cited living researcher. According to the Web of Science, Dr. Fauci ranked 9th out of 2.5 million authors in the field of immunology by total citation count between 1980 and January 2021. During the same period, he ranked 20th out of 2.4 million authors in the field of research & experimental medicine, and 132nd out of 992,000 authors in the field of general & internal medicine.
Xavier Becerra is the 25th Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the first Latino to hold the office in the history of the United States. As Secretary, he will carry out President Biden’s vision to build a healthy America, and his work will focus on ensuring that all Americans have health security and access to healthcare. Throughout his career, the Secretary has made it his priority to ensure that Americans have access to the affordable healthcare they need to survive and thrive – from his early days as a legal advocate representing individuals with mental illness, to his role as the Attorney General of the state of California.
Secretary Becerra served 12 terms in Congress as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure, he was the first Latino to serve as a member of the powerful Committee on Ways and Means, he served as Chairman of his party’s caucus, and as the Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health.