US pushed to join call for patent-free Covid vaccines

FILE PHOTO: Patent-free vaccines could save more than a decade on global vaccinations.

The United States is being pushed to join a scheme to persuade all manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide to give up their intellectual property rights. This would make all Covid-19 medications, treatments and vaccines patent-free, allowing manufacturers around the world to produce them locally. India and South Africa proposed this plan at the World Trade Organization.

As Covid-19 still spreads around the world, and countries like India and Brazil deep in crisis-level outbreaks, freeing up the production of vaccines by making the technology patent-free could lead to much-accelerated global vaccination.

A group of health experts are stressing that political opposition in Washington DC is standing in the way of the global advancement of the patent-free vaccines scheme. Hundreds of self-described public health faculty, administrators, students and practitioners presented a statement to the Biden administration advocating for the plan to give a temporary waiver of trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights rules.

The group pointed out that we are facing continued Covid-19 deaths and suffering, plus we run the risk of recurring new variants emerging and Covid-19 developing resistance to treatment drugs. Things can’t get better until vaccines, treatment and testing are available worldwide to everyone in need. Making the intellectual property patent-free would expedite the production and distribution of vaccines dramatically.

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Without sharing the technology needed to reproduce Covid-19 vaccines, the production of vaccines and inoculations will be hampered and slowed unnecessarily and to the detriment of global health. The letter estimated some poor and developing countries may not have full access to widespread vaccination for more than a decade, by as late as 2034.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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