Mar 30 · Last update 16 days ago.

Should companies waive vaccine patents during the pandemic?

The longer the pandemic unfolds the higher chances there are, not only of higher death tolls, but longer economic declines, more prevalent interrelated health and mental health problems, and most worryingly more viral variations, the like of which we have already seen rendering some vaccines ineffective. One suggested solution to speeding up global vaccination role out is to suspend intellectual property rights over COVID 19 vaccinations for the duration of the pandemic. This would allow cheaper vaccination copies to produced in a decentralised manner and massively ramp up global production, temporarily placing fighting the virus and public health above the profit margins that patents and intellectual property rights help to protect. Should companies waive intellectual property rights on vaccines during the pandemic?
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Vaccine patents need to be lifted
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Vaccine patents need to be lifted

We are currently in a very strange time in the pandemic when there is a seemingly light at the end of the tunnel and not enough is being done to reach it, while a few wealthier nations are slowly rolling out vaccine campaigns the majority of the world remains in the dark. Countries like India are pharmaceutical production power houses, able to churn out massive amounts of drugs and vaccines, however the country has no vaccine in development. Countries like India could easily speed up vaccine the production of other companies if these company's vaccines were not protected as intellectual property, this would allow India to quickly immunise their own massive population before turning this to the world at a much faster rate than is currently underway. The WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has openly supported patent waivers for vaccines to maximise global distribution, pointing out that "“flexibilities in trade regulations exist for emergencies", and that the pandemic should be addressed on a "war footing" using all possible means [1].

[1] theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/05/covid-vaccines-who-chief-backs-patent-waiver-to-boost-production

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Mar 30