The Case Of Covid-19 Vaccine Patents Waiver

The Case Of Covid-19 Vaccine Patents Waiver

Amidst rising Covid-19 cases and a growing dearth of vaccines, discussions around removing intellectual property rights over vaccine have started again. With US making an official statement that it will waive off the patents for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, many nations have shown support to the matter raised prominently last year by India and South Africa. There also have been arguments for and against patent waiver. Let’s understand what is happening.

Crux of the Matter

Back Story
In May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to share knowledge for rapidly scaling up the vaccine production proposed a Covid–Technology Access Pool. However, the initiative largely failed as vaccine companies refused to participate.

The Proposal
In October 2020, India along with South Africa, at World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) council meet, proposed to temporarily suspend the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) rights pertaining to the Covid-19 vaccine and drugs.

Proponents To Relinquish IP Rights
The India-South Africa proposal was roughly backed by over 100 nations.

Fundamental Argument:

  • The patent holders have the exclusive right to manufacture, sell, and use the vaccine/drug for the entire term of 20 years from the date of its filing.
  • IP rights could restrict the supply of vaccines and drugs. Thus, only by suspending the TRIPS agreement a ‘fair, equitable and affordable access’ to Covid-19 products can be ensured.

At present, the annual global vaccine production capacity is 3.5 billion doses. While to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population,11 billion doses are required. A significant increase in production is the need of hour to control Covid 19.

As Reported In WSJ:
Pharmaceutical firms in developing nations like Bangladesh, India, South Africa, and Senegal say that they have the capacity to produce vaccines within a few months if Western manufacturers license or share their technology.

Opposition To Waiver

  • Vaccine makers which are already ramping up production believe that squashing IP will not work to overcome supply shortage in the short term.
  • Reason? Contract producers are not well versed with the new technology.
  • Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech said that it would take a year to master the RNA technology and ensure quality control, with others saying that it would take away resources from existing vaccine production.

What About Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin?

  • Covaxin is indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.
  • Covaxin is an Indian Intellectual Property and hence the scope of TRIPs is not applicable if India want to license it to other Indian firms.
  • So far, Indian government has granted the license to Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corp.
  • However, the firm will take at least a year to get the first Covaxin jab out of its factory owing to the mandatory ‘Biosafety level-3’ production facility required.

In News
On 6th May, 2021 the US finally agreed to temporarily suspend the IP rights. However, the statement released said that US will participate in ‘text based negotiations’ and ‘the entire process might take time’. Experts believe that the process will go on for so long that the emergency is over and there’s no longer a need to share IP.

  • Jonas Salk was the creator of one of the world’s first successful Polio Vaccines. In order to increase distribution globally, he did not patent or make a profit out of the vaccine.
  • Edward Jenner created the smallpox vaccine, the first ever vaccine. He is often regarded as the Father of Immunology.
  • The term vaccine and vaccination from the words ‘Variolae vaccinae’. It mean ‘smallpox of the cow’.

Understanding Plasma Donation

Understanding Plasma Donation

With the second wave of Covid-19 looming upon us, the demand for the plasma of recovered patients has also gone up tremendously. However, many people still have inhibitions about donating plasma. Let’s understand some basics of plasma donation.

Crux of the Matter

What’s A Plasma?
It is a yellow coloured component that is 55% of your blood. Labs separate plasma from blood with special devices called plasma tubes via centrifugation.

Does It Contain Antibodies?
Yes. When your body has fought an infection, the antibodies produced are stored in the plasma. So if you have contracted SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID, then fighting antibodies will be present in your plasma.

How Is It Helpful For A Covid Patient?
The plasma taken from a person who has recovered from a disease is called convalescent plasma. Scientists state that injecting a Covid patient with convalescent plasma, from someone who has already recovered from COVID, can help the patient heal faster.

When Is It Most Needed?
Plasma transfusion should be done within 5-7 days of contracting COVID, to help patients with mild to moderate infection. However, it can’t help critical patients on ventilators.

So When Can You Donate?
Donating while you are Covid positive isn’t a good idea as enough antibodies haven’t been generated to kill the virus.  As per FDA, the best time to donate is about 2 weeks after you have completely recovered.

What If The Donor Gets Vaccinated ?
Well, the regulations in India state that a person cannot donate blood for 28 days after getting the Covid vaccine. Thus, blood banks have appealed to 18 to 44 year olds to donate blood before getting the vaccine.

Will The Donor Get Re-Infected With Covid?
With or without donating blood, your antibodies decrease over time. But on contracting Covid again, your body is able to respond and reproduce antibodies within a couple of hours. Infact, many people have donated blood 7-8 times.

Do’s And Don’ts While Donating Plasma:

  • Always carry a hard copy of the Covid-19 negative report within 4 months of the day of donation & your Aadhar Card.
  • Donate only after 14 days of a Covid-19 positive report if the person is asymptomatic or after 14 days of symptom resolution if the person is symptomatic.
  • Women who have ever been pregnant cannot donate Covid-19 convalescent plasma.
  • Person who has received Covid-19 vaccination will not be able to donate plasma for 28 days from the date of vaccination.
  • A person cannot donate if he/she gets rejected for the lack of adequate antibodies in the blood.

  • The protein which gives red colour to the blood is called Haemoglobin (Hb). Present in the red blood cells, it is the iron-containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein.
  • Almost 7% of the human body weight is blood.
  • Blood of octopuses is blue in colour.

Covid-19 Vaccines In Major Nations

Covid-19 Vaccines In Major Nations

With the world battling the coronavirus or commonly referred to as Covid-19, development of a vaccine became a necessity. Several countries have come ahead and used their resources to produce and develop a vaccine against the virus. While many vaccines are still under progress, there are a few vaccines that are currently in use across the globe. Let us have a look at them.

Crux of the Matter

Let us have a look at the Covid-19 vaccines developed by major nations that are currently in use.

Three Covid-19 vaccines developed by China are used in countries across the globe:

  1. Sinopharm or the BBIBP-Cor V Covid-19 vaccine
  2. Coronavac or the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine
  3. Covidicea or the Cansino Covid-19 vaccine

India is producing two vaccines, one of which is developed by AstraZeneca:

  1. Covishield is the name of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India
  2. Covaxin which is developed and produced by Bharat Biotech

The country has developed two vaccines which are currently in use:

  1. Sputnik V which is developed by The Gamaleya National Centre
  2. EpiVacCorona

USA is till now producing three Covid-19 vaccine:

  1. Moderna vaccine or the mRNA-1273 vaccine
  2. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine- This vaccine is also known known as Comirnaty and is developed in partnership with the German company BioNTech.
  3. Johnson and Johnson or the Janessen Covid-19 vaccine is developed by Janessen Vaccines in Netherlands.

The AstraZeneca vaccine developed by Oxford is also produced by South Korean company SK Bioscience Co. Ltd and has the tradename of AstraZeneca-SKBio.

Get Your Facts Checked For Covid Second Wave

Get Your Facts Checked For Covid Second Wave

Can nebuliser replace oxygen cylinders? Did WHO warn India about the number of Covid cases this month? Multiple such claims have been doing rounds on popular social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. Let’s debunk some of these and give you a reality dose in these trying times.

Crux of the Matter

Fact Versus Reality
A lot of facts go around the social media platforms about Covid-19 and most of the time these facts are far away from the actual reality. These facts can be misleading and create confusion. Let us have a look at some of the facts doing rounds and the actual truth about them.

Final Thoughts
In these difficult times, look out for reliable sources like the Press Information Bureau before believing any of the claims circulating on social media.

  • RT-PCR has risen to become the benchmark technology for the detection and/or comparison of RNA levels. Due to its simplicity, specificity and sensitivity, RT-PCR is used in a wide range of applications from experiments as simple as quantification of yeast cells in wine to more complex uses as diagnostic tools for detecting infectious agents. 
  • On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease “COVID-19”, which is short for coronavirus disease 2019.

Covid Wave 2.0: What You Need To Know

Covid Wave 2.0: What You Need To Know

With ~3 lakh new Covid cases coming every day in wave 2 in India, let’s answer some of the questions many of you have regarding the second.

Crux of the Matter

The new strain is escaping the RT-PCR test, which is considered a gold standard test.

Many cases have come to fore, where a patient has symptoms of Covid-19 but get RT-PCR -ve report. So a CT-scan is used to confirm the infection.

Dr Sarman Singh, AIIMS Bhopal director

Covid-19 Wave 2 Symptoms

This time we have witnessed more cases of breathlessness while in the last wave, symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more.

Dr Bhargava, ICMR Chief

After Getting The Shot, Can You Be Covid +ve?
Yes. As per CDC, after the first shot, you have  50% immunity. The 2nd shot gives 95% immunity. It then takes 1-2 weeks for maximum protection to kick in.
Even then you can contract Covid with less severity, i.e either you will be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

Number of people contracting Covid after getting vaccine in India are given below:

What Is The Primary Mode Of Transmission?
As per latest CDC findings, the principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. The risk of being infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites) is considered low.

Can The Virus Survive On Surfaces?
Researchers suggest a 99% reduction in infectious SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses can be expected under indoor environmental conditions within 3 days on common non-porous surfaces like stainless steel, plastic, and glass.

Misinformation On Twitter
medRxiv did a detailed analysis of COVID19 vaccine disinformation executed by tracing all postings of #AstraZeneca over “blood clot” time frame. The paper said misinformation was spread by powerful individuals, conspiracy websites, state-owned media outlets, as well through co-tweeting bot network. 

Negative News Coverage By US Media
As per a recent study, 87% of Covid coverage in national US media last year was negative. The share was 51% in international media, 53% in US regional media and 64% in scientific journals.

  • RT-PCR has risen to become the benchmark technology for the detection and/or comparison of RNA levels. Due to its simplicity, specificity and sensitivity, RT-PCR is used in a wide range of applications from experiments as simple as quantification of yeast cells in wine to more complex uses as diagnostic tools for detecting infectious agents. 
  • As of 21 April 2021, more than 143 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 3.04 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
  • On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease “COVID-19”, which is short for coronavirus disease 2019.