Story at a glance

  • Pressure is mounting on President Biden to level the playing field for global vaccination campaigns by suspending COVID-19 vaccine patents.
  • The waiver would authorize members of the WTO to suspend the intellectual property rights held by pharmaceutical companies.
  • “Full protection of intellectual property and monopolies would negatively impact efforts to vaccinate the world and be self-defeating for the U.S.,” the group wrote.

Pressure is mounting on President Biden to level the playing field for global vaccination campaigns by suspending COVID-19 vaccine patents. 

A group of 100 nobel laureates and 75 former world leaders called on the president to take the “vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic" by using a waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend vaccine patents, Business Insider reported

The group argued in the letter published by the People's Vaccine Alliance, that suspending patents would expand the capacity to manufacture vaccines by eliminating monopolies that drive global vaccine shortages. The waiver would authorize members of the WTO to suspend the intellectual property rights held by pharmaceutical companies, which could help in vaccine production outside the U.S., without the fear of consequences, according to Business Insider. 

“The full protection of intellectual property and monopolies will only negatively impact efforts to vaccinate the world and be self-defeating for the U.S.,” the authors wrote, adding that “artificial” supply shortages could take billions of the U.S. GDP. 


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The authors also said that 9 out of 10 people in low-income countries will not receive a vaccination in 2021. Further, the U.S. could learn from the lessons of HIV and provide leadership at a time when U.S. influence is important, the group said. 

“Mr. President, our world learned painful lessons from unequal access to lifesaving treatments for diseases such as HIV," the authors wrote.

“By supporting a TRIPS waiver, the U.S. will provide an example of responsible leadership at a time when it is needed most on global health — as it has done so before on HIV, saving millions of lives. Your support in rallying allies and all countries to follow your lead will also be essential.”

The U.S., U.K. and European Union voted to block a similar waiver in March due to the idea that companies need financial motivations to develop life saving technologies, Business Insider reported. 


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Published on Apr 15, 2021