2020 Year in Review: COVID-19 Innovation
Scientists, health care professionals and government leaders across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have collaborated this year to find innovative solutions to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s been an unprecedented year, it has also spurred immense biopharmaceutical research and development (R&D) as industry innovators worked to leverage decades of research and scientific knowledge to develop new treatments and vaccines.
It is because of this collaboration and reliance on in-depth scientific knowledge—knowledge cultivated by strong intellectual property (IP) rights, public-private cooperation and continuous investment in innovation—that safe and effective vaccines are now being distributed worldwide. Here’s a closer look at how the biopharmaceutical sector, industry leaders and governments across the region were able to respond to the pandemic swiftly.
Elevating Public-Private Collaboration
The public and private sectors have been diligently working together to find solutions that drive innovation, meet the needs of patients and support health care workers and those on the pandemic’s frontlines across MENA. For example, biopharmaceutical company MSD Jordan donated over $200,000 to support health care institutions, hospitals and medical associations in their ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19. Likewise, Bayer partnered with the Good Makers Foundation to help the Egyptian government and health authorities raise awareness about the importance of precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Strengthening IP Protections
Strengthening IP rights in MENA has remained a priority as biopharmaceutical companies begin to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. This was recently underscored at the IP20+ Global Intellectual Property Challenges Forum, which brought together world IP leaders across G20 countries. Together, the leaders in attendance released a joint statement that shared their mutual recognition of the importance of IP in ending the COVID-19 pandemic, agreeing to work together to foster greater innovation.
Advancing Innovation Through R&D
Biopharmaceutical companies have accelerated their R&D processes in their pursuit of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. These efforts have already yielded positive results, as Pfizer/BioNTech recently announced that the company’s vaccine is 95% effective in preventing transmission of the virus. Researchers were able to leverage mRNA platforms to increase immune response in clinical trial participants. This advancement is due in large part to the convergence of global collaboration, reliable IP protections and ongoing investment in R&D, broadly.
The biopharmaceutical industry in MENA was able to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the development of treatments and vaccines to support patients across the region. Policymakers will need to ensure that the progress made this year in the fight against the virus continues and should look to advance pro-innovation reforms and strengthen IP protections to ultimately defeat COVID-19.