On Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will host the first World Health Organization-backed COVID-19 mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub – an initiative designed to get the production of mRNA vaccines off the ground in Africa. Parties involved in the hub expect to hear as early as next week whether pharmaceutical companies with mRNA COVID-vaccines for COVID-19 on the market – Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – will share their know-how with the hub. Chris Bateman reports for Spotlight.
The World Trade Organization TRIPS council is expected to vote on South Africa and India’s proposed patent waiver on 10 or 11 March which could, if granted, help countries to scale up production of COVID-19 vaccines. But, while the waiver is important, argues Julia Chaskalson, it is also urgent that South Africa should amend its outdated domestic patent laws.
In 2018, Cabinet adopted a new intellectual property policy for South Africa, but as yet the policy has not led to any change in the country’s patent laws. Amending these laws as soon as possible is critical to both the COVID-19 and HIV response, argues Umunyana Rugege.
As the confirmed number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa climbs toward 20 000, a group of 80 leading academics, teachers and researchers have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to urge reform of South Africa’s Patents Act. We republish the letter in full.
On 17 November 2017, at the University of the Witwatersrand, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz gave a lecture to a standing-room-only crowd. The lecture, entitled Intellectual Property and Societal Welfare, came as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) moves forward on reforms to South Africa’s intellectual property (IP) regime.