Intended for healthcare professionals


WHO to probe claims that Dutch scientists restricted access to novel coronavirus

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 28 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3464
  1. Clare Dyer, Owen Dyer
  1. 1BMJ and Montreal

The World Health Organization is to investigate claims by Saudi Arabia that a Dutch laboratory’s patenting of a novel coronavirus variant is hindering research into the pathogen that has claimed 23 lives in several countries.

Saudi deputy health minister Ziad Memish told the World Health Assembly last week that samples of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, which first emerged in his country, had been sent abroad without permission. “We are still struggling with diagnostics and the reason is that the virus was patented by scientists and is not allowed to be used for investigations by other scientists,” he said.

WHO director general Margaret Chan promised to “look at the legal implications together with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” She added: “No IP [intellectual property] should stand in the way of you, the countries of the world, to protect your …

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