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Posts Tagged: "vaccine access"

Mainstream Media Defends Patents? BBC Interview Indicates IP Talking Points on COVID Crisis May Be Reaching a Broader Audience

I happened to be listening to NPR yesterday morning, and caught an interview on BBC Newshour between the BBC’s Razia Iqbal and a representative of the African Union, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, who is also co-chair of the African Union COVID-19 Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance. The discussion was somewhat unique in that the BBC host was at several points defending patent rights and pushing her guest to explain precisely how patents are the problem with respect to the undeniable crisis of insufficient vaccine access in the world’s poorest countries. An excerpted and slightly edited transcript of the interview follows

Indian Vaccine Economics: IP Rights are Not the Real Villain in India’s COVID-19 Emergency

The horrific second wave of COVID-19 in India has compelled the government to introduce an expedited vaccination drive from May 1, 2021, where all citizens above the age of 18 (and not just priority groups) will be eligible to register. The program also came with the promise of an introduction to several new vaccines in the market. A majority of the states also decided to roll out the vaccine for free. Unfortunately, reports that stock had run out followed shortly in several states. States like Maharashtra and Delhi had to keep the drive on hold. Bengaluru also faced supply problems ahead of the drive. A popular proposition is that patent restrictions and exclusivity of “know-how” are a barrier to adequate production of vaccines.

Calls for Compulsory Licensing and IP Waivers of COVID-19 Vaccines Ignore Technical Complexities

Though it is not over, it seems that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic may be in sight. A select group of countries has managed to bring vaccines to the market in record time. Take the United States, for example. At the time of this writing, three U.S. companies have managed to produce vaccines that received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The intellectual property that underlies these products quite literally has life-saving potential. This achievement no doubt represents a significant feat in human ingenuity, but it also presents a ripe issue in the intellectual property space — namely, compulsory licensing and intellectual property (IP) waivers. Some feel that the cost of sharing this information represents a bold degradation of the intellectual property system. In developing countries, however, the lack of vaccine availability is proving particularly difficult to manage.