Countries urge drug companies to share vaccine know-how

Coronavirus

A member of production checks cell growth and viability of a bioreactor sample under an inverted microscope inside the Incepta plant on the outskirts of Dhaka in Bangladesh Saturday Feb. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon)

PARIS (AP) — The new head of the World Trade Organization is joining calls for pharmaceutical companies to share their coronavirus vaccine know-how and technology more broadly in the developing world.

The comments today are part of a growing demand for what many say is the only way to meet a huge global shortfall in a pandemic that already has claimed over 2.5 million lives.

The Associated Press found three factories on three continents who say they could make hundreds of millions of doses beginning in weeks.

Pharmaceutical companies that took taxpayer money from the U.S. or Europe to develop inoculations at unprecedented speed say they need to move carefully to protect their intellectual property for future medical advances and for safety.

Critics say this piecemeal approach is too slow at a time of urgent need to stop the virus before it mutates into even deadlier forms. WHO called for vaccine manufacturers to share their know-how to “dramatically increase the global supply.”

“If that can be done, then immediately overnight every continent will have dozens of companies who would be able to produce these vaccines,” said Abdul Muktadir, whose Incepta plant in Bangladesh already makes vaccines against hepatitis, flu, meningitis, rabies, tetanus and measles.

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