Researcher Jorge Bermudez, chief of the Department of Medicines Policy and Pharmaceutical Services at the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health (ENSP/Fiocruz, in the Portuguese acronym), is now a member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) created to advise the World Health Organization (WHO) in scientific, technical and strategic issues related to COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP). C-TAP is a solidarity mechanism launched in May 2020 to facilitate timely, accessible and equitable access to COVID-19-related technologies. The only representative of Latin America in the committee, the former director of ENSP participated in the implementation of the Medicines Patent Pool while he was part of the executive management of Unitaid, an international fund for the purchase of medicines against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which has recently incorporated drugs against hepatitis C and COVID-19.
C-TAP/WHO offers a platform for developers of medicines, vaccines and other technologies regarding COVID-19, to voluntarily share their intellectual property, knowledge and data with various manufacturers in order to promote equitable global access to health technologies during the pandemic. The platform was launched in a partnership with the government of Costa Rica, within the context of a Global Solidarity Call endorsed by almost 40 member states.
“This initiative works in collaboration with other international agencies and initiatives and had to converse with manufacturers of medicines, vaccines, diagnostic methods and other technologies in order to state clearly that we have the ethic and moral obligation to break this global imbalance. Vaccine apartheid is real. In Brazil, we are already discussing a booster shot against the virus, while several African countries are yet to provide their front-line health workers with their first jab. C-TAP is a voluntary mechanism, one of the ways to transfer technology, but we must also take compulsory licenses into account, as well as the entire debate taking place at the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend patents of products related to the pandemic. Manufactures must renounce their patents to allow for the production, without monopolies, at a much larger scale that is accessible to everyone”, said the researcher.
TAG’s role is to advance the pool of COVID-19 technologies and to promote equality in access to technologies. The multidisciplinary group consists of ten renowned specialists from different countries, with a wide range of knowledge and experience regarding access to drugs, diagnostic material, vaccines, intellectual property in public health, technology transfer, development of business, price-setting, acquisitions, estimates of needs and/or regulation of medicines (check the list of participants).
The participation of Jorge Bermudez in the Technical Advisory Group of C-TAP/WHO is yet another actuation front and strengthens the actuation of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “Fiocruz is Latin America’s largest institution of science and technology in health, and one of the largest in the world. During the pandemic, the Foundation has been participating in world forums with the WHO and the UN, and it is present in global discussions due to its role in the diagnosis, treatment, production of vaccines and of medicines against the virus. My participation is yet another element to project and strengthen the importance of the institution in public health, in global health, and in the fight for global equality. We must end vaccine apartheid and work so that the entire global population has access to medicines and technologies as a fundamental human right.”