Corona’s voice grows in “knowledge sharing”
Spread ing vaccines and therapeutics to human utilities and reduce access to information resources
“Who has a patent for this vaccine?” Can I patent the sun?”
Jonas Sok (1914-1995), a medical scientist who developed the polio vaccine in 1955, answered a question about patents in an interview after the event, which signaled the success of vaccine development.
Polio is a name commonly used by children under the age of five. Mortality rates range from 1 to 5 percent. Until Sock’s vaccine was released, polio was a public health headache. 1952 was the most severe year in U.S. history, with 58,000 cases of polio reported, 3145 of which were killed and 21,269 paralyzed. However, two years after Sock’s vaccine was developed, polio in the United States decreased by 90 percent from the previous year. In 2000, the complete end of polio was declared in Korea, the Western Pacific, and Europe in 2002. In 2018, there were only 33 cases worldwide, and the number of cases is about to be “extinct.”
Now that Corona19 threatens humanity, can we expect a miraculous reversal like polio? Hye-jin Lee, senior research fellow at Health and Alternatives, said, “The question of whether Sock can patent the sun is a statement that emphasized that the discovery of new technologies was possible because humanity shared knowledge.”
■WHO Corona ‘Knowledge Pool’ launched
In corona 19 prevention, solidarity is important in the development of therapeutic agents and vaccines. This is because a nation cannot be eradicated just because it is good at protecting a nation. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 19, includes a “Knowledge Pool.” The knowledge pool voluntarily entrusts information such as patents that can be used for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Corona 19, as well as information such as clinical trial materials, diagnostic devices, therapeutics, and blueprints used in the production of vaccines, to the joint management of the World Health Organization (WHO), and suggests that everyone should use it freely and equally. The knowledge pool will be officially launched on May 29 through the Pharmaceutical Patent Pool (MPP) under the International Drug Purchase Organization (UNITAID).
The resolution calls for universal, timely, equitable access and fair distribution of high-quality, safe, effective, and affordable essential health technologies and products, and states that measures to “urgently remove unnecessary obstacles to this” are consistent with the “flexibility” provisions identified in the Trips Agreement and the Doha Declaration on Public Health. The flexibility clause stipulates that trips agreements must be interpreted and implemented in terms of ensuring access to medicines for public health, and is the basis for the compulsory implementation of patents and parallel income.
Nam Hee-sop, a patent expert in the field of healthcare, said the resolution “is generally welcome to break through the opposition of the United States and The United Kingdom, which has repeatedly sought to undermine the text,” and said, “It is now a matter of how to engage private actors, especially private pharmaceutical companies.” The United States (Pfizer, Merck), Switzerland (Novartis) and the United Kingdom (GSK), which have many multinational pharmaceutical companies between the 1th and 10th in the world, were negative in the knowledge pool.
The South Korean government has taken a stand in support of the knowledge pool. This is why President Moon Jae-in, in his keynote address to the World Health Assembly on May 18, stated that “developed vaccines and drugs should be distributed fairly to the world as a public material for humanity.” However, it is too early to be evaluated only by the keynote. He said, “Although we emphasized solidarity and cooperation that put life over patents, the government’s push in korea is contrary to that speech.”
“In order for President Moon’s words to not become an airborne vote, it is necessary to preemptively select and put the patents obtained by the public funds of our country into the pool,” said Nam Hee-sop, a lawyer, “And we need to preemptively put the vaccine candidates and public funds secured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fill the pool with the diagnostic technology obtained by the United States and other countries.” “The open source movement has a lot of value depending on how many people are involved in the project,” he said, adding, “The more we participate, the less likely we are to betray it, so we must take an active role in the work of growing grass.”
■As an opportunity to enable knowledge sharing throughout society
The WHO knowledge pool symbolizes the cooperation of the international community in response to Corona 19. Woo Seok-kyun, president of the Council of Humanitarian Practitioners (Doctor of Family Medicine) said that the establishment of a public pharmaceutical company or state-owned pharmaceutical company is necessary as long as it provides domestic conditions in response to such a cooperative system. Woo Seok-kyun said, “The Doha Declaration states that patents can be enforced in advance for public and non-commercial purposes and paying an appropriate price at a later time, but private companies cannot easily come forward even if they share them in a pool because of the burden of retaliation from other pharmaceutical companies.” Domestic pharmaceutical companies are generally reluctant to import drugs from multinational pharmaceutical companies rather than new drugs or sell their generic drugs (replicas) to force multinational pharmaceutical companies to take advantage of patents. This is because they may not be able to supply the drug in the future or the generic contract may be terminated.
In the long term, it is also necessary to improve the system so that the patent system is utilized as the original purpose of encouraging the development of technology. Mr. Wu pointed out, “In the past, patents had the ability to encourage technology development by giving some benefits to those who developed it, but now patents have been altered to prevent people from accessing technology, rather than encouraging technology development.” “Patents and knowledge sharing are necessary for large multinational companies to solve the problem of patentuse by increasing the price of essential medicines and pursuing profit margins.”
In fact, patents that would not be used in the world at a low price, and lawsuits against patent infringement, making money, and “patent bomb” (patent bomb) that put hundreds of patents on a single product and made them incapable of infringing patents, are being encouraged.
This is also confirmed by several examples of the Corona 19 outbreak. The state of Kentucky, USA, has called for a free license for patents for production in the United States, saying that 3M and other patents make it difficult to produce N95 masks. The lack of ventilators in northern Italy prompted a local 3D printing company to provide a blueprint for production, but it was rejected. SoftBank’s patent monster Fortress has used paper companies to file a patent infringement lawsuit against the U.S. manufacturer of Corona 19 diagnostics, and public opinion has not been well-liked.
Contrary to these patent abuses, the knowledge-sharing movement around Corona 19 is actively being developed. Corona19’s academic papers, scientific research results, and data use are almost entirely accessible. <미국의학협회저널(JAMA)>Including <네이처>·<랜싯>·<와일리>·<스프링거>·<뉴잉글랜드저널오브메디슨(NEJM)> A database of the world’s leading international journals and academic papers has published corona 19-related papers for free.
DBpia, a national academic paper platform, has also published infectious disease-related papers for free. Intel and Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and others have launched “Open CorbidE” to allow free use of related copyright and intellectual property rights to minimize the aftermath of Corona 19 until one year after the corona pandemic was declared. Beyond academic syllabus, free software for remote education and video conferencing is also available.
Corona 19 is also expected to make the knowledge-sharing movement more active. Professor Chun Cheong-hwan of Sungkyunkwan University predicted that “the Korosa 19 incident is expected to make a big difference depending on the level of access to knowledge, information resources, and education,” and that “the question of whether the knowledge-sharing movement should be more activein-sharing in order to close such gaps will increase.” In this respect, Prof. Chun Chong-hwan said that public institutions such as the Korea Research Foundation, the Korea Educational Information Institute, and the National Library of Korea, which provide academic information, should be more active in sharing knowledge.