Biden Can Use U.S.’s Political Leverage, Administrative Powers to Jumpstart Technology Sharing, Production
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President-elect Joe Biden should use the U.S.’s political leverage and existing administrative powers, including the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), to bulk up COVID-19 vaccine production and supply in the U.S. and worldwide, a new Public Citizen report today outlined. The report provides an alternative to President Donald Trump’s executive order, also announced today, prioritizing vaccine access for Americans before working with international partners.
To shore up production, once in office Biden should convene vaccine makers, technology holders and manufacturers and call on them to intensify collaboration. Under existing laws like the Defense Production Act, PAHPA and the Bayh-Dole Act, among others, the U.S. government can scale up manufacturing, license patents and know-how to the World Health Organization’s Technology Access Pool. The president can negotiate with the manufacturers, fairly compensating them for sharing the technology, and if the corporations are unwilling to share, the president could require sharing while providing fair compensation.
The world’s largest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute, has said it may take until 2024 for COVID-19 vaccines to reach everyone, highlighting the inadequacy of current production plans.
“The coronavirus pandemic is the worst crisis of our lifetime,” said Zain Rizvi, law and policy researcher at Public Citizen and lead author of the report. “By mobilizing the global community, sharing the vaccine recipe, and building manufacturing capacity, Biden can save lives, revive economies, and bring America back.”
Biden could model a little-noticed 2006 Bush Administration program that dramatically scaled-up global pandemic flu vaccine manufacturing capacity. In partnership with the World Health Organization, the U.S government helped build facilities, trained personnel, provided technical assistance and transferred technology for scalable manufacturing.
“Trump is giving us a false choice,” said Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen’s access to medicines director. “There is an alternative to scarcity; an alternative to global vaccine apartheid. The president should be using the power of the U.S. government to expand the supply of vaccines everywhere. The U.S. government can teach the world to make safe and effective vaccines.”