Therapy Areas: Vaccines
Bolivia signs a deal for 15 million doses of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine requiring WTO patent waiver
12 May 2021 -

The government of Bolivia signed a deal on Tuesday for a potential 15 million doses of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson Inc's (J&J) (NYS:JNJ) COVID-19 vaccines, Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday.

However, under the deal, another manufacture would make the shots and Bolivia would need the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive the drug's patent.

Bolivia has said it had applied to the WTO to green-light a vaccine waiver so Canadian pharmaceutical company Biolyse Pharma Corp could make the doses.

Bolivian trade official Benjamin Blanco was quoted as telling a news conference that this move could help Bolivia speed up a slow vaccination process. So far, Bolivia has reached just 10% of its population with a single dose.

A deal has been signed for Biolyse Pharma to make the J&J single-dose drug, which would be priced at between USD3 and USD4 a dose, Blanco said.

"Getting someone who can make us vaccines without patents is the first step, the second is the notification to the WTO to start the (patent waiver application) process, and if that is granted, production would begin in three to six months," Blanco added.

According to Reuters, pharmaceutical companies, many of which have received government support to develop vaccines and reported bumper profits, have objected to waiving patents. They say poorer countries will be slow to set up manufacturing capacity and compete for scarce supplies, hurting production.

Biolyse spokesman John Fulton said that if J&J agreed to hand over the formula for its COVID-19 vaccine, it could begin production in four to six months, adding that without J&J's assistance, production would be costly, take a year or longer and require a new clinical trial.