COVID-19

Biden pressed to support intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Lily Jamali Nov 26, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
In a letter, more than 15 countries called an emergency intellectual property waiver for COVID vaccines “a moral imperative." Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Biden pressed to support intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Lily Jamali Nov 26, 2021
Heard on:
In a letter, more than 15 countries called an emergency intellectual property waiver for COVID vaccines “a moral imperative." Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Ahead of World Trade Organization meetings next week, 15 human rights and medical groups are urging President Joe Biden to push for an emergency intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. 

In a letter to Biden, they called the waiver “a moral imperative” that would help get more doses of the vaccine to low-income countries. 

Though Biden has supported a waiver in the past, advocates — including Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International — say he hasn’t put enough pressure on pharmaceutical companies and others who want to protect this lucrative IP.

Those calling for a waiver say it’s long overdue. 

Compelling companies like Pfizer and Moderna to share vaccine formulas, they say, could have expanded manufacturing in low-income countries — including South Africa and India, which asked for a waiver last year.

More people have died of COVID-19 this year than last, when there was no vaccine, said UC San Francisco professor of medicine Monica Gandhi.

”And that tragedy is really because there was not global vaccine equity,” Gandhi said.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is pushing back.

Anne Pritchett, senior vice president with the industry group PhRMA, said that lifting patent waivers for COVID vaccines could backfire in the next global health crisis.

“We don’t want to be deterring innovation by saying to companies, ‘There’s no incentive for you to invest in that, because we’re just going to take your IP and give it away,'” she said.

Countries in the EU, plus Switzerland and the U.K., support that view.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.