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Controversy over Covid vaccine patent waiver: Analysis Updated: 2021-05-10 13:44:38 KST

Intellectual property waiver for Covid vaccines have become a hot button issue as discussions on the proposal began at the World Trade Organization.
The U.S. has reversed its previous stance announcing support for waiver to give patent access to countries in need, while the EU is divided on the issue with Germany vocally rejecting the idea.

Should medical inventions be legally protected even at times of a global health crisis?

Joining us live from Washington D.C. is Madhavi Sunder, associate dean for international and graduate programs and a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Professor Sunder, pleasure to have you with us.

So, the proposal led by India and South Africa calls for the waiver of certain intellectual property rights related to Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics to expedite access and affordability across the globe.
Advocates, including yourself, say that waiving these rights are essential to combating the pandemic.
Why is this necessary?

Pharmaceutical giants are of course strongly against vaccine patent waiver, saying that it could set a bad precedent which will arouse many problems in the future and disrupt a fragile vaccine supply chain.
Basically, their argument is if intellectual property protection is waived in the face of a public emergency, even as a one-off, will firms invest next time there is a similar emergency? What do you say to this?

European Union leaders, at a summit over the weekend, pushed back against President Biden's call to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, saying exporting more shots would be a faster way to help poor countries struggling to contain the virus.

So, what more needs to be done for patent waiver to lead to an actual mass distribution of vaccines to different parts of the world?

Dr. Madhavi Sunder, joining us live from Georgetown University Law Center on vaccine patent waiver. Thank you for offering your insights.
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