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Twice in recent months, a small Canadian company has approached two large drug makers to obtain licenses to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines so the shot could be distributed in low and middle-income countries where supplies are scarce.

But a request made to AstraZeneca (AZN) was ignored, while Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) denied the overture, according to executives at Biolyse. So now, the privately held company is asking the Canadian government to sidestep the vaccine patents in what could be a test of the willingness of a wealthy country to help ensure Covid-19 vaccine supplies reach impoverished corners of the globe.

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  • “If we could manufacture a vaccine already approved, it would save a great deal of time. And the transfer of know how would be the way to do it” said Biolyse president Brigitte Kiecken. How will a compulsory license provide for this transfer of know-how? A voluntary technology sharing platform like the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool actually has the potential to provide for that.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the note and I agree with you that a license permitted by the Canadian government would not provide know how. But I believe she was referring to the notion of cooperation – that J&J or some other company would willingly allow Biolyse to proceed and provide some know how. File it under wishful thinking.

      And yes, C-TAP provides such an avenue, but unfortunately, hasn’t gotten off the ground. But I know that you know the reason.

      All best,
      ed at pharmalot

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