Good Day BIO: TRIPS waiver news – plus, Juneteenth and World Sickle Cell Day
June 20, 2022
On Friday, the WTO agreed to a waiver of COVID vaccine intellectual property protections—here’s what we know. And while it’s a federal holiday in DC (and for BIO) for Juneteenth, we want to take a moment to look at why this day is an important reminder of the need for…
The only newsletter at the intersection of biotech, politics, and policy
June 20, 2022
On Friday, the WTO agreed to a waiver of COVID vaccine intellectual property protections—here’s what we know. And while it’s a federal holiday in DC (and for BIO) for Juneteenth, we want to take a moment to look at why this day is an important reminder of the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care and our industry. (733 words, 3 minutes, 39 seconds)
WTO TRIPS waiver a ‘distraction’ – and ‘vehicle to raid U.S. innovation’
What’s in it: Developing countries that want access to patented COVID vaccine technology no longer need to contact the patent holder before issuing a compulsory license. And any COVID vaccines produced under compulsory licenses can be more freely exported between developing countries.
The key takeaway: “The agreement announced by the WTO will do nothing to increase COVID vaccination rates in the developing world, while at the same time setting a harmful precedent for the world’s ability to respond to the next pandemic,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.
The reality: The agreement is “a vehicle to raid U.S. innovation…that will benefit China and set a precedent that erodes intellectual property protection,” says the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, explaining that there’s nothing legally binding to stop China from stealing mRNA.
Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: “It is unfortunate that trade officials in Geneva, including those from the United States, have fallen victim to a false narrative that intellectual property rights stand in the way of beating back the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “The decision at the WTO is nothing more than a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.”
Harvard Public Health: We’re already ignoring the next pandemic “The menace of antibiotic resistance should be the priority of every legislator in every place where policy is set,” writes Henry B. Skinner, CEO of the AMR Action Fund.
Juneteenth and World Sickle Cell Day remind us why DEI matters
Sunday was Juneteenth and World Sickle Cell Day, raising awareness of a disease that disproportionately affects African Americans—and important reminders of why diversity, equity, and inclusion matter in biotech.
What is sickle cell disease? It’s an inherited, lifelong disease in which the body makes “sickle-shaped” red blood cells that can block blood flow, causing pain, organ damage, infection, and other serious complications, as MTS Sickle Cell Foundation explains.
With a Black CEO and majority-minority workforce, GBT shows that it makes a difference when biotech is representative of the patients we serve—but there’s still much work to be done to end racial disparities in health care and in the biotech industry.
Why it matters: “[O]ngoing systemic and racial inequities remain and the work must continue,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath last year. “150 years later we are still fighting to counteract the systemic inequality, injustice, and unfair treatment of underserved communities in virtually every aspect of society. I hope we, as a nation, use this day to reflect in earnest on the many ways each of us can strive to make America more just and equitable every day.”