COVID-19 and Contribution of IP

March 23, 2020by S.L.Soujanya

The World Health Organization (WHO) explains COVID-19 (coronavirus) as the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It is popularly referred to as the cousin of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

The corona virus basically spreads through droplets of an infected person generated through coughing and sneezing. The basic symptoms shown in a person affected by COVID-19 may range from body aches or pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea to difficulty in breathing in severe cases. Aged people and those with pre-existing health conditions are highly vulnerable than other human beings. Virus replicates only inside a living cells of an organism, thus making the understanding of its behavior difficult. Also, the coronavirus has an ability to replicate at the higher temperatures within the human lungs, thus making it fatal.

A lot has been said, read and discussed on this virus and its implications across the globe. Our approach in this article is from the perspective of Patents and related aspects.

The importance of Research and Development is being emphasized in the wake of this pandemic. Development of Vaccines, which are biological preparations for providing immunity against an infectious disease is a long process.

What is going on?
China is testing Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral Remdesivir, and other antiretroviral drugs. It has been reported that GeoVax (US-based pharmaceutical company), and BravoVax (China-based pharmaceutical company), have announced plans to develop a coronavirus cure in the form of vaccine based on the former’s MVA-VLP vaccine platform.  As per the company’s website “Remdesivir is an investigational nucleotide analog with broad-spectrum antiviral activity – it is not approved anywhere globally for any use.”

As a part of the race for coronavirus vaccine development, Arcturus Therapeutics based in San Diego, California is working on creating  a vaccine in one of its labs.

Some Related Patents/ Applications:
As per a latest update from the Chinese Patent Office, the US-based Gilead Sciences has been granted three Chinese patents connected to possible COVID-19 treatment Remdesivir. This drug has been used in a limited number of patients.

North Carolina based Biotechnology company “Heat Biologics” has filed provisional patent application that applies immune system activating technology for treating/preventing infection with SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
[Source: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1476963/000155335020000189/0001553350-20-000189-index.htm].

Similarly, Pfizer is in discussions with its partner to create a potential coronavirus vaccine.

CEL-SCI Corporation, the Virginia based Biotech company has utilized its already patented [Ligand Epitope Antigen Presentation System (LEAPS)] peptide technology to initiate immunotherapy against the Coronavirus.

On 20 Nov, 2018, a patent was granted to an attenuated (less virulent to be used as a vaccine) to PIRBRIGHT INSTITUTE. [US10,130,701].

Conclusion:
It is estimated that nearly 40 companies and academic institutions are working on effective vaccine against Coronavirus. But the earliest human trial is possible in April only. The exclusive rights assigned by IP are much essential for not just innovation but also commercialization of “state of art” technologies and research. It is highly essential for every country to work judiciously towards contingencies and not depend on imports for the well-being of its citizens by encouraging in-house innovation and strong IP policies to protect them.

Sources:
https://www.lifesciencesipreview.com/news/china-approves-three-remdesivir-gilead-patents-for-covid-19-treatment-3930

https://www.reuters.com/article/brief-heat-biologics-says-filed-provisio/brief-heat-biologics-says-filed-provisional-patent-application-that-applies-immune-system-activating-technology-for-treating-preventing-infection-with-sars-cov-2-virus-that-causes-covid-19-idUSFWN2AV0SH

https://patents.google.com/patent/US10130701B2/en

Covid-19: Pharmaceutical companies and agencies that partnered for coronavirus vaccine development

https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3049227/who-owns-magic-cure-chinas-move-patent-gileads-experimental-drug-could

https://www.gilead.com/purpose/advancing-global-health/covid-19

We Won’t Stop Coronavirus Without IP

https://www.law360.com/articles/1249858

 

S.L.Soujanya

S.L.Soujanya

Ms. S.L. Soujanya is a registered Patent agent with an academic background in Pharmaceutical sciences. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the Osmania University, Hyderabad and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Rights Law from NLSIU, Bangalore.

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Telangana, India.
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