Anti COVID Vaccines — Temporary Suspension of Patents?

Alejandro Teitelbaum

The magnitude and complexity of the current pandemic has confronted the world society with seemingly irreconcilable dilemmas between fighting it with a certain level of effectiveness by seriously affecting the functioning of the economy and other aspects of social life such as education, free movement of people, freedom of assembly, etc. Or keeping the latter untouched at the price of an uncontrollable spread of the pandemic. A compromise between the two alternatives has been sought, with relative success.

The vaccines in use seem to play a very important role in slowing down the pandemic. But there is a marked difference between rich and poor countries in terms of their availability. This has direct negative conse-quences on the control of the pandemic in the latter and indirect consequences in the former because of the ease and speed of transmission of COVID and its variants from poor regions to those with a sufficient and even abundant supply of vaccines.

The call then arose to make vaccines a public good, not subject to the laws of the market. And the surprising decision of President Joe Biden, unsuspected of collectivist inclinations, to support India, South Africa and dozens of other countries in temporarily suspending the patents for antiviral vaccines, i.e. the rights inherent to the private ownership of vaccines.

This proposal was immediately rejected by the main leaders of the major powers, except for Macron, who suddenly changed his mind on the matter.

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