The Latest: COVID-19 Innovation Benefits Patients in MENA
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked unprecedented private sector innovation and collaboration to combat the global health emergency. Several biopharmaceutical companies formed unique partnerships within the industry and with governments and academia to accelerate the research and development (R&D) processes. Respect for intellectual property (IP) rules aided innovators as they leveraged decades of scientific knowledge to develop and deliver COVID-19 vaccines effectively. As a result, the vaccine development process — from research and clinical trials to government approvals and vaccine deliveries — was accelerated significantly. Now, patients throughout the MENA region are receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
For example, Pfizer collaborated with BioNTech early in the pandemic to develop a COVID-19 vaccine utilizing mRNA technology. The vaccine has since been studied in over 45,000 clinical trial participants and achieved 95% efficacy in protecting patients from contracting the virus. Regulatory authorities have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the UAE. As distribution continues to ramp up, patients throughout MENA are reaping the benefits of biopharmaceutical investment and innovation.
Likewise, the AstraZeneca and Oxford University partnership developed a non-replicating viral vector COVID-19 vaccine studied in over 68,000 clinical trial participants and yielded a 70% efficacy rate after two doses. The Egyptian Drug Authority approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine for emergency use and received its first shipment of doses in early-February, and it has begun administering doses. Thanks to this unprecedented collaboration and several scientific discoveries throughout the R&D process, patients in Egypt can now feel more confident in their protection against the virus.
As the biopharmaceutical industry continues to find innovative ways to develop and deliver COVID-19 vaccines for those throughout the MENA region, policymakers must strengthen intellectual property protections to ensure the continuity of innovation and widen patient access.