Opinion Piece Discusses COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility, Argues For Suspension Of Intellectual Property Rights
New York Times: Want Vaccines Fast? Suspend Intellectual Property Rights
Achal Prabhala, coordinator of the AccessIBSA project and fellow of the Shuttleworth Foundation; Arjun Jayadev, professor of economics at Azim Premji University and senior economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking; and Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research
“As some reports would have it, this is the beginning of the end. Three coronavirus vaccines have posted excellent results, with more expected to come. But this is not the beginning of the end; it is only the beginning of an endless wait: There aren’t enough vaccines to go around in the richest countries on earth, let alone the poorest ones. That’s why it makes little sense that the United States, Britain, and the European Union, among others, are blocking a proposal at the World Trade Organization that would allow them, and the rest of the world, to get more of the vaccines and treatments we all need. The proposal, put forward by India and South Africa in October, calls on the WTO to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, trade secrets, or pharmaceutical monopolies under the organization’s agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights, known as TRIPs. … [G]overnments of rich countries can push back against Big Pharma … and sometimes have done so — despite the pharmaceutical industry’s sometimes colossal financial clout. … [M]ounting pressure from poor countries at the WTO should give the governments of rich countries leverage to negotiate with their pharmaceutical companies for cheaper drugs and vaccines worldwide. Leaning on those companies is the right thing to do in the face of a global pandemic; it is also the best way for the governments of rich countries to take care of their own populations…” (12/7).
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