EB 148: WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) comes under scrutiny

On Tuesday, 19 January 2021, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board discussed the COVID-19 response. In these discussions, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), and Health Action International (HAI) expressed concerns over WHO’s leadership of the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

KEI exhorted the WHO to “to exert greater leadership in measures to scale production, increase competition, and speed the delivery of vaccines, therapeutics and other technologies and other technologies in the COVID-19 response” (WHO EB 148: Oral statement of Knowledge Ecology International on the COVID-19 response). HAI expressed surprise that the Director-General’s report on the COVID-19 response failed to “acknowledge the Covid-19 Technologies Pool (C-TAP), a platform which, by gathering and channeling IP, know-how and other relevant data could play critical role in transferring technology and scaling up production of vaccines, diagnostics and other health goods necessary to vanquish this pandemic” (HAI: STATEMENT TO EB148 ON THE COVID-19 RESPONSE).

Dr Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, Assistant Director-General, Access to Medicines and Health Products, WHO, provided the following response on C-TAP. Vittoria Magrini transcribed Dr. Simão’s response which is contained below

On the third point, related to C-TAP and let me say that the management of intellectual property is always a sensitive issue and it always comes up whenever we discuss access to medicines, vaccines, health products and in the midst of a crisis it is not surprising that it comes up again. So we welcome very much the statement of support to C-TAP, which is the platform that’s been run by the WHO with other partners to voluntarily share enough knowledge and licensing of IP to the Medicines Patent Pool. And that includes, several countries mentioned the increase of technology transfer, so we believe that C-TAP is the right platform to pool-in the knowledge and help the processes towards technology transfer to become a reality. At this stage we did strengthen engagement from both governments and from industry. And here I would like to say that we did two consultations with the private sector recently in December and January and I would like to here publicly say that we received support not only from Costa Rica and other countries who have signed the Solidarity Call for Action in May but also from the United Kingdom who hosted a consultation with the private sector in the UK in December and we are very grateful for this opening. We will keep member states updated on C-TAP, the next steps taken and the way forward. We did have a member state briefing in November on this and we also stand ready to do an update session. Thank you very much.