Leaders of twenty major industrial and emerging countries are holding a health summit aimed at boosting access to coronavirus vaccines. They’re expected to recommend more voluntary licensing of vaccine production.
At present, it’s only a handful of companies and their partners that are allowed to make the jabs. It’s a fundamental principle of intellectual property law but – critics say- it’s costing lives. South Africa and India have led calls for patents to be waived. More than 100 countries – including the US, agree. But Germany rejected the proposal, saying it would hinder innovation.
What are the arguments for and against? Those in favour say suspending patents would save lives and help economies re-open. They say pharma companies have benefited from government investment. The critics say patent waivers would hamper innovation, and slow any response to a future pandemic. They say production capacity is the real issue and point out that some pharma companies are already selling their vaccines to poorer countries at cost.
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