Experts stay quiet on issue of sharing COVID-19 vaccine technology with the world

Leading vaccinators won’t tell.

President Joe Biden supports the waiver of patent protection for the vaccinesthat have reduced hospital stays and deaths but remain in the hands of a few companies that do not have the capacity to manufacture them on a global scale.

Although wealthy nations have high vaccination rates, Dozens of poor countries Stay below 5% of vaccination rates, quickly dividing the planet into a world of COVID-19 possessed and have-nots, especially by color.

Critics say this, beyond inequality, creates a false sense of security for Americans who are now on the third dose.

The longer poor colored nations do without it, the greater the likelihood that a vaccine-resistant variant will invade the U.S. healthcare system and undo all advances.

Like Dr. Greg Poland of the Mayo Clinic recently said, “This is a situation where we, not me,” a situation where the fate of distant others affects that of patients here in the US

So at the beginning of this week a group of US Senators, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, signed a letter asking Biden to clear patent protection for the Moderna vaccine, which received billions of dollars in federal aid to go to market.

Together with them, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, intellectual property sharing.

In a Washington Post article released Tuesday October 12, Frieden said the fact that only 4% of the world’s 6.5 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine went to poor countries was “morally indefensible” and could result in millions of additional deaths cause.

“The only responsible way forward,” wrote Frieden of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna, “is for them to transfer their vaccine technology to other companies that can grow production quickly.”

He added that it can be done without deleting their patent rights or royalties.

Doctors who say something and others who are silent

What do influential vaccinologists think about vaccine technology sharing?

Poland, Mayo’s face of the vaccine message and a global authority on drug research and development, won’t say it. He declined to comment from a spokesman.

Mayo’s Robert Nellis cited a divide within Mayo between opinion on medical practice and public policy, saying that “Mayo generally does not comment on government policies or positions”.

Dr. Paul Offit would also not support intellectual property sharing. As a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and a former member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines, the well-known American vaccines agency suggested that the question of technology transfer should be addressed to a medical ethicist.

Other doctors argue that ethics and politics are uniquely helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Nathan Chomilo, Senior Equity Advisor to the Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health. Photo: MDH

Dr. Nathan Chomilo, Senior Equity Advisor to the Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health. Photo: MDH

“I am an advocate for physicians who bring their expertise to these important decisions and policy decisions,” said Dr. Nathan Chomilo, a pediatrician with HealthPartners and Senior Equity Advisor to the Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health.

“Especially those who have experience developing and distributing vaccines and who hold prominent positions in this conversation,” he added. “It is really important that you take this up … bring technical expertise to this public debate.”

Chomilo is supporting the publication of vaccine technology, citing a letter dated August 10 to the White House signed by 175 medical experts, academics and civil society leaders, including deans from five leading public health, nursing and medical schools.

No Mayo clinics are listed as signatories to this letter.

“The United States should explore all legal options,” it said, “to force mRNA manufacturing companies to share technology and voluntarily license their technology to contract manufacturers around the world, including mRNA manufacturing centers.”

“There’s a global pandemic,” says Chomilo. “A conversation needs to be held about how the structures that were put in place in times without a pandemic need to change … in order to counter this threat.

“They talk about war effort. In war effort, you do what’s necessary. You don’t just stop and say we’ve done our part … It’s not going to be easy how our society is structured. People agree to technology transfer, but I think it is definitely necessary. “

Christian ethics and pandemic medicine

In recent statements to the media, Mayos Poland suggested that vaccination, social distancing and the wearing of masks are a demonstration of Christian ethics.

He cited a popular passage written by Reformation figure Martin Luther when the Black Death returned to Wittenburg, Germany, in 1527.

LEARN MORE: What did Martin Luther say about Christian ethics during a pandemic?

“‘I will avoid places and people where my presence is not required,'” the vaccinologist quoted from the famous letter. “That’s social distancing. Interesting moral there.”

“‘If everyone were to help fight the contagion as best they can,'” he continued in the 500-year-old passage, “‘then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are so stupid, no precautions meet – – now we would say (that means) masking, distancing and vaccines – and make the contagion worse, then many will die. ‘”

Today the head of the church founded by Martin Luther supports the exchange of vaccine technology.

“We cannot give up our responsibility to our sisters and brothers by imagining that the market can be left to resolve the crisis.” read a letter signed last spring by 150 religious leaders, including the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Rev. Dr. Martin Young.

“We have a moral obligation to reach everyone in every country.”

The letter was written in support of The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a proposal from the World Health Organization that recognizes “the need to exchange information – be it technology, intellectual property or manufacturing” and aims to combat the pandemic.