The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a first-of-its-kind deal to boost production of a technology that detects Covid antibodies in a bid to help poorer countries battle the pandemic and address “devastating inequity.”

Announcing the agreement on Tuesday, the WHO said the serological technology that detects Covid-19 antibodies will be provided royalty-free to poor and middle-income nations.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the move was required to “turn the tide on the pandemic and on the devastating global inequity this pandemic has spotlighted.”

This is the kind of open and transparent licence we need to move the needle on access during and after the pandemic.

“The aim of the licence is to facilitate the rapid manufacture and commercialisation of CSIC’s COVID-19 serological test worldwide,” the WHO said in a press release, adding that the offer to low- and middle-income countries “will remain valid until the date the last patent expires.”

The global deal, agreed with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), will offer the test as a worldwide public good under a test permit signed by the WHO’s Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).

The technology can be used by nations to help detect the spread of the virus even in rural locations that have basic laboratory infrastructure, the international health body said. 

According to the WHO, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in more than 256 million confirmed cases and more than 5.1 million fatalities. Around the world, more than 7.4 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered so far.

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