The world is facing a huge shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, and surrendering intellectual property rights is not going to solve the “most immediate problem”, says the global CEO of an Indian pharmaceutical company.

“I’m not sure if an IP waiver at this point is something that … can solve an immediate problem,” said Umang Vohra of Cipla, who sees two problems that need to be solved.

The first and most immediate problem is the need to vaccinate millions and the second is long-term access to vaccines, he told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia on Wednesday.

Not having patent protection can help with long-term access, but probably won’t help much in the short term, Vohra said.

There should be more partnerships to get more vaccines to parts of the world that don’t currently have this supply.

Umang vohra

Global CEO, Cipla

“It’s more about gaining immediate access because I think that’s the order of the day,” he said.

“There should be more partnerships to get more vaccines to parts of the world that don’t currently have this offering,” he added.

Proposal to waive patent rights

Vial of undiluted Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, stored at -70 ° in a super freezer.

Jean-Francois Monier | AFP | Getty Images

“Considerable know-how”

Cipla’s Vohra agreed that they have highly skilled skills in the manufacture of mRNA vaccines such as those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

“I think these are complicated to manufacture, I think there is considerable know-how,” he said. “It’s not just about intellectual property, it’s about this technology and the experience companies have had in formulating their technology.”

He added that large vaccine manufacturers appear to be more concerned about supply chain fragility than about capacity constraints.

Ultimately, Vohra said that giving up IP protection wouldn’t immediately deliver vaccines to parts of the world that don’t have access to the gunshots – and that’s the pressing problem.

He said existing partnerships provide a template for how vaccines can be distributed.

“I think if we step back and look for access that is a better target and that will allow a lot of things to take care of themselves,” he said.