Spanish researchers open up COVID antibody tests tech

Spain’s top research institution reached a licensing deal Tuesday that paves the way for its COVID-19 antibody test to be produced more cheaply in developing countries.

The World Health Organization described the accord as the first transparent, global, non-exclusive licence for a COVID-19 health tool that will help correct “devastating global inequity”.

The deal brings together the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the global Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) knowledge-sharing platform.

“The aim of the licence is to facilitate the rapid manufacture and commercialisation of CSIC’s COVID-19 serological test worldwide,” the WHO said.

The test effectively detects anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies developed in response to either a COVID-19 infection or a vaccine.

CSIC, one of Europe’s main public research institutions, will provide the MPP or prospective licensees with knowhow and training.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the licence, which will be royalty-free for low- and middle-income countries, as “the kind of open and transparent licence we need to move the needle on access during and after the pandemic.”

He added: “I urge developers of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics to follow this example and turn the tide… on the devastating global inequity this pandemic has spotlighted.”

C-TAP was founded in May 2020 as a platform for developers of COVID-19 treatments, tests and vaccines and other health products to share intellectual property, knowledge and data.

Set up during the scramble for COVID vaccines and treatments, the health technology repository was the brainchild of Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado.

The information pool was intended as a voluntary global bank for intellectual property and open-sourced data as part of a common front against the new coronavirus.

Reticent pharma rivals

However, as it turned out, rival pharmaceutical companies have largely kept their findings to themselves rather than sharing them as global public goods.

“This licence is a testament to what we can achieve when putting people at the centre of our global and multilateral efforts,” Alvarado said. “It shows that solidarity and equitable access can be achieved.”

Costa Rica “is convinced, today more than ever, that mechanisms such as C-TAP can help us overcome the current situation, while being beneficial for future health crises.”

CSIC president Rosa Menendez said she hoped the move would serve as an example for other research organisations.

The Geneva-based MPP is a UN-backed international organisation that works to facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income nations.

The antibody test licensing accord is the third COVID-related deal that the global pool has struck in a month.

Last week, the MPP reached an agreement with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to make its prospective antiviral COVID-19 pill available more cheaply in 95 low- and middle-income countries representing around 53 percent of the world’s population.

Under the deal, Pfizer will sub-licence production of its promising Paxlovid pill to generic drug manufacturers.

The MPP signed a similar voluntary licensing deal with Pfizer’s US rivals Merck & Co last month for its oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir, which is still in the testing phase.

Merck strikes deal for global access to COVID drug

© 2021 AFP

Spanish researchers open up COVID antibody tests tech (2021, November 23)
retrieved 23 November 2021

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