The World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) recently reached a joint licensing agreement with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) for a non-exclusive COVID-19 serological antibody test.
The CSIC-developed test, to be released worldwide, checks for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies spawned in response to a COVID-19 infection or vaccine. It’s the first test license signed by MPP and included in the WHO Pool, and like many available now, the test itself is simple to use and accessible with basic lab infrastructure. This means it is well suited to even rural areas in low- and middle-income countries. Its readings can potentially be conducted manually, although an ELISA reader provides the greatest accuracy in result assessment.
“This licence is a testament to what we can achieve when putting people at the centre of our global and multilateral efforts,” President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, the founding country of C-TAP, said. “It shows that solidarity and equitable access can be achieved and that it is worthwhile continuing to support the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and non-exclusivity that the C-TAP defends.”
The partners hope to rapidly manufacture and commercialize CSIC’s COVID-19 serological test now that all patents and biological material have been accounted for under the new agreement. Additionally, CSIC will train MPP and other prospective licensees as needed for use of the test and provide all knowledge at its disposal. The license is royalty free for low and middle-income countries and will remain valid until the final patent expires.
“I highly commend CSIC, a public research institute, for its commitment to solidarity and for offering worldwide access to their technology and know-how,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said. “This is the kind of open and transparent licence we need to move the needle on access during and after the pandemic. I urge developers of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics to follow this example and turn the tide on the pandemic and on the devastating global inequity this pandemic has spotlighted.”
To date, the CSIC test has created four different tests. One of these is capable of distinguishing the immune responses of those infected by COVID-19 from vaccinated individuals. Interested manufacturers across the world are able to apply for a sublicense of the test through emailed responses to the MPP.