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Media - published on 17 Sep 2020

Developing Countries Push to Limit Patent Protections for Covid-19 Vaccines

Saeed Shah for the Wall Street Journal reports on the debate around patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

Investigating the issue of patents for potential COVID-19 vaccines, Saaed Shah interviews representatives from pharma companies, along with public health experts, NGOs and members of the United Nations to understand the varying viewpoints on the topic. 

In the article, Shah delves into concerns that have been raised about vaccine availability for developing countries, explaining that "South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Pakistan and others argue they won’t be able to afford to protect their people without lower-cost, generic alternatives to the vaccines now being tested by companies such as Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca PLC and Moderna Inc.

Shah reports that such countries, along with NGOs and the UN, are putting pressure on pharmaceutical companies to limit patent protections in order to ensure low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) can access lower-cost generic versions of COVID-19 vaccines.  While LMICs worry about ensuring an affordable supply of a vaccine, Shah notes that "even before the drugs are fully tested, richer countries have struck deals worth billions of dollars to buy up much of the known manufacturing capacity," and that "the U.S., Japan, U.K. and the European Union already have placed orders for more vaccine doses than they have people." 

Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director for the Access to Medicine Foundation, provides her view on vaccine manufacturing capacity in developing countries and how this can play a role in the COVID-19 response. 

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