The COVID vaccine IP waiver is not a good idea – here’s why

The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to waive COVID vaccine intellectual property protections—and many stakeholders are upset about it. Yes, the COVID vaccine IP waiver will hinder innovation—but we also don’t need it, according to experts and several press reports highlighting the surplus vaccination available internationally.

“In 2021 alone, companies produced more than 11 billion doses of COVID vaccines, enough to give two shots to every adult on the planet,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in May. “We anticipate that number jumping to 18.6 billion by the end of this year.”

A total of 632 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered throughout the African Region, with 64 percent coming from the COVAX Facility, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This equates to 56 doses per 100 persons and accounts for 40% of the doses required to achieve 70% of individuals completely vaccinated in all nations.

The problem is that the vaccines aren’t getting into arms. Twenty-seven African countries out of 46 have administered fewer than 50% of doses received, says WHO. More tragically is that doses are getting ditched or destroyed all over the world – from the EU, which has thrown away around 50 million–plus expired doses, to the Serum Institute of India, which may need to destroy 200 million doses in August/September due to oversupply.

The bottom line is that we need to be focused on the real challenges, as BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry–Heath said last week.

“We need to work together to ensure that, in areas where vaccine rates are lagging, we can get more shots in arms. To do that, we must apply the best practices developed over the last few years to overcome global vaccine hesitancy and to strengthen local health care systems.”

More Reading: China pushes WTO IP waiver to gain tech access, says BIO expert

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