Agree to Disagree COVID Series: Who Owns the Vaccine?
India and South Africa have petitioned the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. These nations – along with a coalition of scholars, activists, and nonprofit organizations – argue that developing nations are at risk of waiting years to get full access to the vaccines unless these protections are lifted. But their opponents say suspending patent protections will do little to speed up the manufacturing process. Instead, undermining these protections will ensure that the next time the world needs an emergency vaccine, governments and pharmaceuticals will be unable to act as swiftly. It’s a debate emblematic of the uneven vaccine rollout, and strikes at the core of society’s ability to act quickly.