We, members of the Columbia University community, are calling for a People’s Vaccine. We join Oxfam, UNAIDs, the World Health Organization, hundreds of world leaders and Nobel Laureates in the belief that all COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines developed with public money should be safe, available and affordable to all.
As “one of the world’s most important centers of research,” Columbia University belongs at the forefront of a movement to save lives and end the pandemic.
Your signature will help demonstrate support for change at Columbia University–whether you are faculty, alumni, student, staff, or a member of the surrounding community.
There are 527,339,770 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,283,025 deaths around the world today, with over 6 million of those cases in the United States. Over 236,000 of those cases were in New York City, where over 23,000 people have died since March. Some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in the world are within a few miles of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus.
Along with the World Health Organization, we’re asking for institutions like Columbia University (including faculty, researchers, departments, and schools within the University) to sign the Open COVID Pledge to realize that “access to vaccines and treatments as global public goods are in the interests of all humanity.”
“The single most important priority of the global community is to stop the COVID-19 pandemic in its tracks[…]. We know that this goal is only achievable when everyone, everywhere can access the health technologies they need for COVID-19 detection, prevention, treatment and response. […] Toward this aim, we call to action key stakeholders and the global community to voluntarily pool knowledge, intellectual property and data necessary for COVID-19. Shared knowledge, intellectual property and data will leverage our collective efforts to advance scientific discovery, technology development and broad sharing of the benefits of scientific advancement and its applications based on the right to health.”
What is the Open COVID Pledge?
The Open Covid Pledge offers legal tools for institutions to publicly commit to make their COVID-19 related intellectual property (IP) freely available. You implement the Pledge through a license that includes terms and conditions for how the IP is made available. You have the option of adopting one of three template Open COVID Licenses (the simplest and easiest way) or you can adopt your own license so long as it carries out the intent of the Pledge.
Instead of granting a typical exclusive license to one company to produce the drug, by making the Open COVID Pledge you allow anyone to access the patented invention “solely for the purpose of diagnosing, preventing, containing, and treating COVID-19.”
It doesn’t guarantee that multiple pharmaceutical companies, start-ups, or governments would immediately start producing a technology. But it does offer that option. And we know that there is no way that one company will be able to produce enough diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines for 7.8 billion people – so this kind of license just makes sense.
“Billions of people today await a vaccine that is our best hope of ending this pandemic. As the countries of Africa, we are resolute that the COVID-19 vaccine must be patent-free, rapidly made and distributed, and free for all. All the science must be shared between governments. Nobody should be pushed to the back of the vaccine queue because of where they live or what they earn.”
President of South Africa
Okay, it sounds good in theory, but I’m worried that this isn’t a feasible way to develop new medicines…
Forms of open access licensing have been used to develop new medicines and health technologies – often at a fraction of the cost of the traditional model. Here are a few examples, but you can also check out Universities Allied for Essential Medicines’ RE:Route Mapping Tool, which provides 81 alternative R&D models, 49 of which were in use by 2015.
- The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, which develops lifesaving medicines for people with neglected diseases around the world, has an access policy for products they develop. It is guided by principles and objectives including “facilitate equitable access to the new treatments developed by DNDi” and “enter into agreements with manufacturers to secure long term treatment and/or API production…at lowest Cost of Goods Sold and price, of acceptable quality, and with IP enabling global access”.
- The Medicines Patent Pool signed a licensing agreement with Johns Hopkins University to facilitate the clinical development of sutezolid, a promising tuberculosis treatment. JHU granted the Medicines Patent Pool an exclusive, royalty-free license covering all countries that currently have patents issued or pending for a sutezolid combination therapy.
- M4K Pharma, a non-profit pharmaceutical company, shares all research openly and files no patents on its results. They are currently working on a treatment for Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and fatal children’s brain cancer for which the only life-extending treatment is radiation therapy. Nearly every child diagnosed with the disease dies within two years.
- The Structural Genomics Consortium has developed a number of chemical probes for epigenetics — valued reagents in fundamental and applied biological research — since 2008.
Fulfill the promise by signing on
- Reduce healthcare inequities and promote racial justice in New York and around the world.
- Stand out as an international leader in the health sciences.
- Practice our commitment to the principles of the scientific process and to the scientific community
- Sharing our scientific discoveries with other researchers will prevent more infection and disease
- Ensure fair and equitable access to publicly funded research.
- Help the economy rebound by removing barriers to innovation.
- Contribute real meaning and impact: Columbia University’s discoveries can help people around the world
What’s the point of developing a life-saving innovation if those who need it the most can’t access it?
The Open COVID Pledge allows our university to create a tailored license for Columbia University that would help end the COVID-19 pandemic and minimize the impact of the disease.
We’re ready to spread the word about the university’s global leadership! Are you ready to sign on?
Learn more about the Open COVID Pledge: