Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director General, spoke to BBC Sounds on 26 May on about the extent and importance of collaborations both between biopharmaceutical companies and with other stakeholders, notably universities and biotech companies to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
At this stage, it is still impossible to know with certainty whether there will be a vaccine, but he is confident a vaccine will be developed, even if it may require another year. He explains that “initially, demand will probably far outstrip supply, and it becomes thus essential to agree on some common principles. Indeed, the first people who should have access to vaccines should be healthcare professionals irrespective of where they are. Then, we need to look after vulnerable populations, the elderly people with comorbidities. Many companies are looking at WHO for guidance on allocation principles”.
Although national interests may represent risks, Cueni insists on the importance of teaming up on a global level, using international multi-stakeholder organizations such as Gavi and leveraging the deeply felt sense of responsibility that biopharmaceutical companies share, fostering and promoting an equitable access worldwide. Importantly, patents are in no way a main issue, as in order to have the highest level of insurance of quality, other variables such as specific skillsets and highly trained workers factor in.
Overall, companies are extensively collaborating to maximize the availability of their resources, so that in case any of them had a breakthrough, all would participate in the effort to get the vaccines to the people that need them, in the quantities they would need them.
Listen to the full podcast here.