SWITZERLAND—The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the Health Technology Access Pool (HTAP) will take over from the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

WHO, the government of Costa Rica, and other partners launched the now-defunct C-TAP in May 2020 to facilitate fair and cheap access to COVID-19 health goods for people in all countries.

The platform provided a much-needed forum for technology partners to freely share intellectual property, knowledge, and data in order to expedite technical innovation and broaden access to COVID-19 technologies. 

Despite the difficulties of developing a unique mechanism during a pandemic with limited resources, C-TAP won six transparent, non-exclusive global licenses for 15 innovations spanning R&D tools, diagnostics, and vaccines, including the first from a commercial producer.

HTAP builds on C-TAP’s base while introducing structural, process, and other modifications to better attract and support a diverse variety of key technologies. 

HTAP will continue to prioritize pandemic preparedness and response while also promoting access to health products that address other public health goals by actively targeting platform technologies and other health products that are relevant during and after health emergencies.

This method will increase the public health impact of HTAP investments, as well as the appeal of licensed technology to recipient industries seeking larger market prospects and financial sustainability throughout the inter-pandemic period.

The concurrent WHO – Medicines Patent Pool announcement on the licensing of a quick diagnostic test platform technology is an example of such a strategy.

During the announcement, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the importance of fair access to essential health products for universal health coverage and global health security.

He went on to say that the HTAP is a critical step toward achieving more equitable access to a wide range of health products by sharing intellectual property, information, and scientific innovations.

HTAP will increase access to health goods that address public health goals, such as pandemic preparedness, and are relevant during and outside of health emergencies.

This method will increase the public health impact of HTAP investments as well as the appeal of licensed technologies to recipient firms by expanding market opportunities and ensuring financial sustainability.

The announcement of the license of a rapid diagnostic test platform technology is an example of this strategy.

The expected benefits of implementing the HTAP model include addressing access inequities on an ongoing basis, increasing attractiveness to both technology holders and recipients, leveraging the strengths, expertise, and resources of WHO and partners, and ensuring continuity along the value chain.

WHO will release additional information about HTAP and the technologies it will target later in the first quarter of 2024. 

The official launch of HTAP is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.  In the interim, WHO will use the concepts and approach indicated above to assess opportunities to secure health technology and grow regional or global production capacity. 

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