Researchers all over the world have dropped other projects and are sharing information posted to preprint servers—research papers shared before peer review—using tools like Slack and Twitter. Others post test results in near real-time. Even corporations that normally protect their intellectual property rights with high profile lawsuits are changing their perspectives to fight the virus.
The following initiatives are working to share resources in the fight against COVID-19.
Open COVID pledge
A group of scientists, lawyers, and individuals is working to remove barriers involving intellectual property to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Open Covid Pledge asks IP holders to make their assets available free of charge until one year after the World Health Organization declares the pandemic has ended. There is flexibility in the language to allow users to adapt it to their specific needs.
Some well-known people including CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna and Stanford Law Professor Mark Lemley are among the founding members of the pledge. One of the law professors behind the initiative, Jorge Contreras, provided this statement to IAM media, “They (the members) genuinely felt that there were enough patents floating around in the spaces where they needed to work that getting formal licenses would slow things down too much.”
Life sciences and pharmaceuticals
While patent protection is normally the lifeblood of the pharma industry, a number of large companies have loosened the reigns on potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
Johnson & Johnson declared that its in-development vaccine will be considered a non-profit project, with healthcare workers in hospitals to receive the first doses. If successful, J&J will make it globally available to all nations.
Gilead Sciences was awarded orphan drug status for the experimental antiviral remdesivir, but has since rescinded the declaration. The orphan drug classification would have kept companies producing generics from filing applications for seven years. Remdesivir, which is currently undergoing clinical trials for use in COVID-19, was first developed to fight Ebola although other drugs provided more effective.
The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the creation of a voluntary pool of clinical data and patent rights for treatments and diagnostics related to COVID-19. Proposed by the Costa Rican government, the pool could make these products more affordable for economically depressed populations.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement:
“Poorer countries and fragile economies stand to face the biggest shock from this pandemic, and leaving anyone unprotected will only prolong the health crisis and harm economies more. I call on all countries, companies and research institutions to support open data, open science, and open collaboration so that all people can enjoy the benefits of science and research.”
Open Science Initiatives
Open science is an increasingly popular effort to make all facets of scientific research (data, journal articles, funding grants, patents, etc.) freely available to all. Digital Science, an investor in IFI, is a promoter of open science and is sharing information in a number of ways. The goal is to help the research community stay up to date and greatly reduce the time that would otherwise be required to collate this information from many sources.
Resources available through Digital Science include:
Dimensions: this research information platform includes grants, publications, citations, clinical trials and patents. All COVID-19 related articles, preprints, datasets and clinical trials from Dimensions are available for anyone to access and are updated daily. Look at the content
COVID-19 Research Publishing Portal from Figshare: this repository is dedicated to storing and sharing all existing coronavirus research across Figshare as well as all new COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 research that is submitted in the weeks and months ahead. Access the portal
Language check from Writeful: researchers submitting papers concerning COVID-19 to eight relevant journals can use software to improve their manuscripts before submitting them, resulting in faster publication times. Learn more
Free 6-month subscription to Papers: this collaborative reference manager will allow COVID-19 researchers to save online research papers, take notes on them, and share them with up to 30 people. View subscription information
Free Ventilator Specifications from Medtronic
To help meet the enormous challenges for ventilators brought on by COVID-19, Medtronic is offering design documents, specifications, manuals, and software code for its portable ventilator, the Puritan Bennett (PB) 560. The device is compact, portable, and has been in use since 2010.
The product is not completely open-sourced—Medtronic is issuing a special “permissive license” to tackle COVID-19. FoxConn has announced plans to make the ventilator at its Wisconsin plant and Tesla is also experimenting with designs based on the Medtronic specifications.