© Reuters

Médecins du Monde Challenges Pfizer/BioNTech Monopoly on the Covid-19 Vaccine

Vaccines are considered essential tools in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, yet only a few pharmaceutical companies have control over the production and sale of these technologies; they are generating vast profits while leaving 2.6 billion people without access to them. Médecins du Monde is challenging this monopoly by taking legal action at the European Patent Office (EPO).

A clear lack of inventive step, which is part of the required criteria for obtaining a patent

 Médecins du Monde believes the two patent applications filed by BioNTech at the EPO are underseved. BioNTech has directly implemented existing knowledge from the development of vaccines for other coronaviruses and mRNA vaccines, both of which were produced by academic researchers. In other words, Pfizer/BioNTech needed only a few weeks to produce its Covid-19 vaccine, because the science was already there.

 

 

Unlimited profits for a few private companies at the detriment of public interest

The public sector has provided more than $50 billion to private companies to support research and development (R & D) for Covid-19 vaccines, while assuming the financial risk of their development. Today, Pfizer/BioNTech holds 70% of the European Covid-19 vaccine market. They generated tens of billions of dollars in 2021, while forecasts promise record-breaking global sales in 2022.

It is time for European states, and France in particular, to regain control and allow more equitable sharing of public investments. In France, more than €4 billion could have been saved and redirected to the public health system in 2021 and 2022. The government can still intervene and rebalance its resources between a few private companies and the general interest.

 

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1Global Health Centre. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine Purchases and Manufacturing Agreements. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Retrieved from: www.knowledgeportalia.org/covid19-vaccine-arrangements

2  Rapports financiers annuels 2021 de Pfizer et BioNTech

3  “How to Make Enough Vaccine for the World in One Year”, Public Citizen et Imperial College London 26 mai 2021. https://www.citizen.org/article/how-to-make-enough-vaccine-for-the-world-in-one-year

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