U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration recently announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
- The US will further negotiate with the World Trade Organization to waive Intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines.
- This will help in the large-scale production of COVID-19 vaccines in middle-income countries.
- Earlier this month, India and South Africa have submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.
- Regarding this, as many as 40 members of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) have discussed a proposal submitted by India and South Africa for relaxing certain provisions in intellectual property (IP) agreement with a view to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 100 countries of the 164 members are in favour of waiving the IP.
- Recently Australia and New Zealand also agreed on the waiver.
About Intellectual Property Waiver for COVID-19 vaccine:
- IP right is a monopoly granted by a government to an inventor.
- It means that the others cannot copy their invention.
- It can be a process patent or a product patent.
- The developing countries are arguing that intellectual property is an obstacle in increasing the production of vaccines.
- The production of COVID-19 vaccines in middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements. Therefore, in order to ramp up the production of the COVID-19 vaccine production, it is essential to waive off (remove) the Intellectual Property Rights for the COVID-19 vaccine.
- In simple terms, an IPR waiver means that when a company has produced a vaccine, the others can immediately copy its composition produce their own. This will increase vaccine production and decrease vaccine costs.