Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has just signed a deal with a UN-backed group that would allow other manufacturers to make its Covid-19 pill, which could potentially make the pill available to half the world’s population.
It announced today that it would grant a licence to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, allowing other drug companies to produce its antiviral pill for use in 95 countries, which accounts for 53% of the population.
Sales in low-income countries will be royalty-free along with other countries covered by the agreement.
Health officials have speculated that because the deal was struck before the drug’s approval, it could help end the pandemic faster.
Head of policy at the Medicines Patent Pool ‘Esteban Burrone’ estimated that other manufacturers would be able to start producing the pill within months but acknowledged that the agreement wouldn’t please everyone.
This is because the deal excludes certain large countries that have suffered devastating Covid-19 outbreaks.
This means that if a Brazilian drug manufacturing company receives a licence to make the pill, it could not be made generically for use in Brazil and would be exported to other countries.
The deal also excludes countries such as China, Thailand and Argentina to which Doctors Without Borders said they were “disheartened” to hear.
Senior legal policy advisor at Doctors Without Borders ‘Yuanqiong Hu’ stated, “The world knows by now that access to COVID-19 medical tools needs to be guaranteed for everyone, everywhere, if we really want to control this pandemic”.