Geneva, 18 May 2020 – The COVID-19 crisis has drawn major international attention to the need to ensure access to new technologies that will likely play a central role in overcoming the pandemic. It is essential to prepare for access while some of these technologies relating to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments are still being developed, so that these become available and affordable as quickly and widely as possible.

Licensing under public health-oriented terms and patent pooling is a proven way for making patented health technologies rapidly available at affordable prices for all those in need. It is a strategy that has worked very well in HIV, where millions of people today are getting access to affordable new treatments shortly after they are developed. It’s the strategy that Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has been implementing, with the support of Unitaid and together with our partners in industry, governments and civil society.

On March 31st, MPP announced the expansion of its mandate to include any health technology that could contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and where licensing could facilitate innovation and access. MPP’s expertise in negotiating licences from a public health perspective, managing those licences to support timely and equitable access, experience in working with various stakeholders including governments, originator and generic companies, as well as communities to support in-country uptake, could contribute significantly to the COVID-19 response.

We understand that overcoming the pandemic will require significant collaboration across many stakeholders, in ways that we have probably never seen before. We welcome the Resolution WHA73.1 that call’s to work collaboratively through “existing mechanisms for voluntary pooling and licensing of patents”. As the only existing patent pooling mechanism in the public health field, we stand ready to play that role. We look forward to working with the World Health Organization (WHO), Member States and other key stakeholders to make that possible.