Could An Intellectual Property Rules Waiver Save People From COVID?

Hundreds of progressive think tanks have requested that President Joe Biden waive the World Trade Organization (WTO) Intellectual property (IP) rules and regulations. Waiving these rules would likely kickstart the production of test kits, treatment regimens, and vaccines. Johnson & Johnson recently provided us with a third highly effective vaccine, but thousands are still dying. These think tanks believe that hundreds of thousands could be saved by waiving the rule.

Right now, the IP rules provide Big Pharma with relative exclusivity in determining how to manufacture and disseminate testing kits and vaccines, which could result in more lives lost.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) said, “As a global community, we must come together and use every tool at our disposal to stop this pandemic. Unfortunately, we have seen intellectual property rules and corporate greed have disastrous impacts for public health during past epidemics, and we need to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

There’s a wide disparity between what Big Pharma is allowed to do and what the taxpayers want them to do — which matters more because of how much money the taxpayers give them despite their control over the system they’ve gamed for decades to their own advantage.

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) gives Big Pharma control over the information tech used to develop medicine.

Senior policy analyst at Health GAP and professor of law for Northeastern University, Brook baker believes that easing these burdens will save lives. She said, “As an expert in intellectual property law and access to life-saving medicines, I can assure the Biden administration that intellectual property barriers are real, and they’re blocking millions of people around the world from accessing life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. By obstructing the TRIPS waiver proposal, President Biden is breaking his promise to share COVID-19 vaccine technologies with the world.”

Biden recently committed to sharing vaccine technology with the world — which is why some people are urging him to uphold his promises to do the right thing.

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