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The IP for fighting Covid-19 should be waived. Here's why

Jeffrey D Sachs
Jeffrey D Sachs5/14/2021 7:0 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
The IP for fighting Covid-19 should be waived. Here's why
As a general principle, IP should not stand in the way of scaling up production to fight Covid-19.
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The governments of South Africa, India and dozens of other developing countries are calling for the rights on intellectual property (IP), including vaccine patents, to be waived to accelerate the worldwide production of supplies to fight Covid-19. They are absolutely correct. IP for fighting Covid-19 should be waived, and indeed actively shared, among scientists, companies and nations.

The pharmaceutical industry and the governments of several vaccine-producing countries, including the US and the UK, as well as the European Commission, have been resisting the IP waiver, while 150 public leaders and experts have sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden in support of it. Early this month, Biden threw his support behind the IP waiver.

There is no longer any question about who is right. Given the surge of Covid-19 in several regions, most recently in India, the continuing emergence of new and deadly variants of the virus, and the inability of the current vaccine producers to keep pace with global needs, an IP waiver or its equivalent has become a practical urgent need as well as a moral imperative.

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