Patient receiving vaccine

Top Five Ways UN Leaders Can Promote Pandemic Preparedness

The upcoming United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response gives world leaders a meaningful opportunity to build on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, support innovation and reject calls to undermine intellectual property (IP) protections. Here are five ways global leaders can enable progress toward pandemic preparedness and ensure citizens across the world have access to needed biopharmaceutical and other health care innovations:


  • Support public-private partnerships: Collaboration between and among governments and the biopharmaceutical industry facilitated access to COVID-19 technologies, such as COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, across the globe. IP protections provided the foundation for voluntary technology transfers, patent licensing and other partnerships that expanded access to innovative products when patients needed them most.


  • Foster policy environments conducive to innovation: Policy leaders need to support efforts that allow for innovative research agendas and continued collaboration on new and existing medicines for pathogens of pandemic potential. Markets with robust innovation ecosystems in place allowed for the quick development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and are poised to foster the same innovation when the next pandemic hits.


  • Address trade barriers: In today’s interconnected world, leaders must address trade barriers to ensure that global supply chains are optimized, uninterrupted and integrated so that distribution systems can deliver innovative technologies to patients globally. Trade barriers should not stand in the way of procuring materials for the research, development and manufacturing of innovation, as we saw happen during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Strengthen and harmonize regulatory capacities: In many developing countries, profound delays in regulatory authorizations and lack of use of regulatory reliance significantly hindered the delivery of pandemic-related products to nations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Effectively regulating the assessment and authorization of safe and effective health products is an important tool to ensure timely access, and leaders should do more to enhance national and regional regulatory authorities and support regulatory harmonization during interpandemic times.


  • Strengthen health systems and country readiness: World leaders must focus on ensuring that all countries have the necessary basic infrastructure to support a pandemic response, including sufficient and surge distribution capacity, physical infrastructure like roads and hospitals, and enough trained front line and health care workers to administer vaccines, treatments and care.


Deficiencies in country readiness is a real barrier to access to lifesaving medicines and other innovation.


These five key areas provide global leaders a critical path forward for a productive pandemic preparedness agenda at the UN High-Level Meeting. Policies that facilitate and support innovation proved critical to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic – and surely will improve the outcome of the next global health crisis. Leaders should keep in mind that IP is at the center of these solutions, facilitating the new technologies, processes and partnerships responsible for lifesaving progress and change.

Policies that facilitate and support innovation proved critical to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic – and surely will improve the outcome of the next global health crisis.

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