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March 25, 2021

Should Big Pharma waive intellectual property rights to Covid vaccines?

By Paul Dennis

25 March

Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, retweeted a debate on the case for waiving some intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, while experts from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations argued that the focus should be on companies’ profits first.

According to Baker, Covid-19 vaccines should be free for everyone for several reasons. In his view, much of the world still does not have access to vaccines.

As a result, it could be 2023 and 2024when the entire world gets completely vaccinated.

There is also the risk of having to develop new vaccines altogether to combat the new virus strains, which can be deadlier than the circulating ones, he opines.

In addition, government have aided in funding these vaccines, right picking up the tab for clinical testing, to research and regulatory approvals.

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However, Thomas B. Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, argued that waiving intellectual property rights is not the way to get the everyone vaccinated.

Cueni suggested that passing on a patent would discourage companies that have been working incessantly on developing these vaccines within restricted time.

It would indicate that they do not have intellectual property rights even during a global catastrophe such as the pandemic, and will thereby reduce their incentive to rapidly develop vaccines in future emergencies.

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