The High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR) was recently held during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), bringing together representatives from Member States, international organizations, NGOs and other accredited entities. The conversation underscored the need to build on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance our collective ability to prevent and prepare for future pandemics and the global health challenges they create.
Embracing innovation and upholding a robust intellectual property (IP) framework will continue to be essential for achieving future success in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Global leaders echoed this sentiment across three key themes:
- Collaboration and Equity: As Thomas Cueni, Director General of IFPMA, noted in the lead up to the event, coordinated action across sectors, backed by appropriate incentives, is necessary for developing the essential health innovations needed to combat and respond to future pandemics. IP protections are fundamental in this, facilitating the global partnerships that enhance access to health resources worldwide. The delegate from Paraguay underscored this need during the meeting, commenting how “it is essential for the international community to make a commitment to collaboration and exchanging knowledge.” And the Maldivian representative recalled how global initiatives during the COVID pandemic showed how this worked in practice, noting how “international mechanisms such as COVAX [were] beneficial to many countries [in] improving access.”
- Freedom to Innovate: As the representative from Roche reinforced, “the speed and freedom to innovate without conditionalities is critical.” Effective vaccines and treatments were crucial in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, and this substantial progress was anchored in strong IP systems, which fueled groundbreaking research and enabled the swift development of novel technologies. Strong innovation ecosystems expedited the delivery of vital health solutions globally, and they must be protected as an essential component of effective pandemic preparedness.
- Invest in Health Infrastructure: Workforce shortages and inadequate health resources continue to reduce patient access to necessary health tools and treatments — an issue that was largely evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Combatting these challenges requires an investment in health infrastructure that strengthens global capacity to combat future crises. Work to strengthen pandemic preparedness must focus on addressing these real barriers to access rather than narrowly attacking IP rights. Event co-chair, H.E. Carla Vizzotti of Argentina, reinforced this stating, “We must strengthen capacity in all countries so that all countries receive what they need.”
As highlighted at the UN High-Level Meeting on PPPR, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the urgent need for policies that promote innovation before the onset of the next global health crisis. Leaders must acknowledge the pivotal role of IP in enabling the essential collaborations and investments that aid in the prevention, preparedness and response to future pandemics.
Embracing innovation and upholding a robust intellectual property framework will continue to be essential for achieving future success in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.