Novavax is committed to accelerating equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in countries where vaccination rates are low. On May 6, 2021 we again demonstrated this commitment through the finalization of an advance purchase agreement with Gavi, which in conjunction with our partner Serum Institute of India, will supply a cumulative 1.1 billion doses of our recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the COVAX Facility. This means actual shots in arms for millions of people around the globe in low, middle, and high-income countries based on principles of equitable access. The WTO TRIPS waiver and similar proposals to weaken intellectual property protection would not achieve equitable vaccine access, and instead has the very real potential to undermine Novavax’ ability to fulfill our commitment.
The ability to deliver vaccines relies upon access to limited raw materials and consumables; strong partnerships with capable manufacturers; and free movement of supplies and vaccines between countries. A TRIPS waiver could further constrain resources by diverting them to entities incapable of manufacturing safe and effective vaccines in the near term. A TRIPS waiver could also undermine existing partnerships and would not promote timely capacity-building. Even under the best circumstances, it can take years to stand up the manufacturing capabilities required to safely produce vaccines. A TRIPS waiver could increase national barriers to the free flow of materials and vaccine doses, threatening the stability and integrity of the global supply chain. Furthermore, a TRIPS waiver could contribute to the proliferation of counterfeits throughout the world, undermining the safety of the entire vaccine supply.
From the outset, Novavax has worked to implement broad manufacturing capacity and thereby access to our vaccine in as many parts of the world as possible. Novavax took the initiative to partner with dozens of organizations to take advantage of every opportunity to grow capacity. During this pandemic, we have forged over 25 partnerships in more than 10 countries to ensure equitable and global access to our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. We have spent months transferring knowhow to our partners to ensure they are able to manufacture doses that meet regulators’ standards for safety and effectiveness around the world.
With COVID-19 infections continuing to surge around the world, vaccine developers are united in a race against the virus to minimize transmission rates and to prevent the emergence and circulation of new variants. No one is safe until everyone is safe. A TRIPS waiver is not the right answer. It will not achieve its intended purpose. Instead, governments should support existing partnerships and encourage new voluntary collaborations; facilitate and expedite the export of materials necessary to manufacture and finish vaccines; and work together to ensure a safe and secure global supply of vaccines.