IP waiver for COVID vaccines is a threat to future innovation
20 June 2022: The decision to waive intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines is fundamentally flawed and will have a negative impact on future innovation.
Medicines Australia is disappointed by the decision made at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, to adopt an IP waiver – known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver – for COVID-19 vaccines.
Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, said intellectual property is one of the key reasons why multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines could be produced and scaled up so quickly during the height of the pandemic.
“This decision from the WTO Ministerial Conference has disregarded the evidence and distracts from the real barriers that are getting in the way of vaccinating more people around the world.
“Since the start of the pandemic, strong IP frameworks have supported pharmaceutical companies, scientists, researchers and manufacturers to create safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time.
“This week’s decision sends a dangerous message to our community of amazing researchers and innovators that the intellectual property of their discoveries is a barrier to the pandemic response, when this is absolutely untrue.
“The emergence of COVID-19 variants and the threat of other future health pandemics mean we should be protecting the systems that enable medical innovation, not tearing them down.
“The TRIPS waiver pulls apart the very system that supported the fastest development of vaccines and enabled unprecedented collaboration and partnerships.
“More disappointing is the fact that the WTO has not adequately addressed the real reasons that vaccines are not getting to the people that need them; trade, dose-sharing, distribution and country readiness for administration,” Ms de Somer said.
Read the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) statement about the TRIPS endorsement at the WTO Ministerial Conference here.
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