Access and benefit-sharing by the European Virus Archive in response to COVID-19

Lancet Microbe. 2021 Nov 16. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00211-1. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Biobanking infrastructures, which are crucial for responding early to new viral outbreaks, share pathogen genetic resources in an affordable, safe, and impartial manner and can provide expertise to address access and benefit-sharing issues. The European Virus Archive has had a crucial role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing EU-subsidised (free of charge) viral resources to users worldwide, providing non-monetary benefit sharing, implementing access and benefit-sharing compliance, and raising access and benefit-sharing awareness among members and users. All currently available SARS-CoV-2 material in the European Virus Archive catalogue, including variants of concern, are not access and benefit-sharing cases per se, but multilateral benefit-sharing has nevertheless occurred. We propose and discuss how a multilateral system enabling access and benefit-sharing from pathogen genetic resources, based on the European Virus Archive operational model, could help bridge the discrepancies between the current bilateral legal framework for pathogen genetic resources and actual pandemic response practices.

Publication types

  • Review