Covid19 Vaccines and the Global Good: Universities and Pharmaceutical Co

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Tensions between universities, pharmaceuticals and government in relation to COVID19 vaccines and some ways forward

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International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM) University of Bath; University of West Indies Office of Global Affairs and the Society for Research in Higher Education South West Network Public Seminar

COVID 19 Vaccines and the Global Good: The Relationship between Universities, Pharmaceutical Companies and Government

Universities have been a major source of innovation in responding to the COVID19 pandemic including the development of COVID19 vaccines. In the absence of production and distribution capacity, universities have partnered with large pharmaceutical corporations. These partnerships have raised difficult tensions including conflicts in intellectual property rights, licensing and the profit versus the public interest motive. While certain countries and organisations have called for the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 to ensure that all communities and countries, and not only the wealthiest will have access to the vaccines, the pharmaceutical industry and many high-income countries oppose this move, stating that innovation will be stifled when it is needed most. This seminar analyses the tensions that arise between governments, universities and large corporations in the development, production and distribution of vaccines in the context of a global pandemic and points to alternative ways to manage these relationships in ways that protect and benefit humanity into the future.

Speakers : Professor Duncan Matthews, Director of the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute and Dr Roya Ghafele, Director of OxFirst

Respondent : Professor Ammon Salter (ICHEM and CREI)

Chair and co-hosts: Professor Rajani Naidoo ( ICHEM), Professor Luz Longsworth, (UWI Office of Global Affairs); Mrs Helen Perkins (Director SRHE) Dr Lisa Lucas (Bristol and SRHE SW Network)

Moderator : Professor Jurgen Enders (ICHEM)

Speaker Abstracts and Bios

Socialised Risk, Privatised Reward: The Story of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine and Alternative Models for Equitable AccessDuncan Matthews Rapid Covid-19 vaccine development has been underpinned by unprecedented levels of cooperation between universities and biopharma companies, supported by public funding from governments and not-for-profit organisations such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The decision of Oxford University to grant an exclusive licence to AstraZeneca for the manufacture and distribution of the AZD1222 vaccine worldwide has proved controversial and raises unanswered questions about equitable access, pricing and transparency. As public scrutiny of Covid-19 vaccines comes ever more sharply into focus, greater attention is being paid to the implications of intellectual property ownership, licensing agreements and the generation of profits and rewards. This presentation examines how public money invested in university-generated vaccine development can balance the exploitation of intellectual property rights with proper public scrutiny and equitable access.

Professor Duncan Matthews is Director of the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute and Chair in Intellectual Property Law. Apart from various university positions, he was previously a researcher in the National Institute for Economic and Social Research think-tank and an EU lobbyist. He has acted as an advisor to amongst others the Directorate General Trade of the European Commission; the ECAP II EC-ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Co-operation Programme; the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the United Nations Development Programme Expert Advisory Group on Trade and Development. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys Education Committee and also worked with the Centre for the Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research and Development on an IP Handbook of Best Practices. He is co-founder of the European Intellectual Property Teachers’ Network (EIPTN).

Preserving the Public Interest in Public Private Partnerships for HealthRoya GhafeleTo bring potentially lifesaving technology to market, universities need to enter partnerships with corporations. Such partnerships are commonly known as public-private partnerships for health and allow a university to combine its academic know-how with the commercial capabilities of a pharmaceutical company. These partnerships need to be guided by the preservation of the public interest. A university has a responsibility to protect the public interest, particularly if its research is undertaken with public support. To assure the preservation of the public interest, it is important that patents are adequately addressed in technology transfer agreements. This implies that on the one hand contracts contain public interest clauses and on the other hand that the licensing rate is commensurate with the need to preserve the public interest. In that respect valuing IP from a public interest perspective can be an important toolkit. As the Covid 19 pandemic spreads globally, universities around the world are encouraged to adequately assure the preservation of the public interest when transferring potentially lifesaving technology. Such an approach permits both the university and the company to adjust their respective strategies from the outset. Read more at

Dr Roya Ghafele has been the Director of OxFirst, an award-winning law and economics consultancy, since 2011. In addition, she has held a Lectureship (Assistant Professor) in International Political Economy with Oxford University and was also a tenured Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Law with Edinburgh University. Prior to that she had post-doctoral assignments at Harvard and U.C. Berkeley. From 2002-2007 she worked as an Economist with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the OECD. She started her career with McKinsey in corporate finance. Her Ph.D. was awarded the Theodor Koerner Research Prize by the President of the Republic of Austria. Dr. Ghafele was trained at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, the Sorbonne and Vienna University. During the course of her studies she was fully funded by the Austrian Government because her academic merits were continuously of outstanding quality. She is native in German and fluent in English, French and Italian. Her specialties include IP valuation, Damage Calculations, Competition Law & Economics, FRAND, Royalty Rate Determination, Economic Assessment of Legal Contexts.

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