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WHO Inks License Agreement for Commercialization, Manufacturing of COVID-19 Antibody Test Technology

NEW YORK ─ The World Health Organization and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) on Tuesday announced a licensing agreement to facilitate the rapid manufacture and commercialization of COVID-19 antibody testing technology developed by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

CSIC's technology has yielded four tests, one of which has the potential to distinguish the immune response of people who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 from those who have been vaccinated, the WHO said, adding the technology should support research into the level and length of immunity against the virus and the efficacy of available tools.

The tests are easy to use and suitable for settings with a basic laboratory infrastructure, and the technology license will be made available royalty-free for low- and middle-income countries, the WHO said.

The licensing agreement with CSIC was inked by WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and MPP, a United Nations-backed public health organization seeking to increase access to and facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income countries. 

The agreement covers all related patents and the biological materials necessary for test manufacturing, and represents the first license inked by MPP that is included in C-TAP. Under the agreement, CSIC will provide know-how and training to MPP or prospective licensees, or both.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In theory, the results of the tests based on the licensed technology can be read by comparing the color of assay wells with colors on a chart, but an ELISA reader is recommended for greater results accuracy, the WHO said.

The WHO is inviting manufacturers interested in obtaining a sublicense to contact it. Promising performance data for the licensed technology in the European population will need to be supplemented by companies that plan to sell the tests in low- and middle-income countries, the WHO said.