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Recap: How limited IP Waiver Could Solve Our Pandemic Vaccine Problems

While news reports in developed countries show steady growth in the percentage of vaccinated, many developing countries appear not to be so bright. What is most difficult in fighting COVID-19 is obtaining the vaccines in the first place. For example, in Africa, many countries have vaccinated less than 2% of their population so far.


The proposal by India and South Africa to waive intellectual property rights so that other countries can produce vaccines was objected to by most vaccine-producing countries. These objections mainly stem from the large investments made by these countries in R&D in decades. The UK and the EU continue to argue that intellectual property rights are a key component in driving innovation, and waiving IP rights can discourage future investment in new technologies and solutions.


The article suggests a third option, ‘in-between,’ which is limited IP waivers that would encourage private companies to share the minimum necessary portions of the technology to produce basic COVID-19 vaccines with national governments. Patent term extensions could incentivize pharmaceutical companies to support such limited IP waivers.

Limited IP waivers may offer a compromise to bridge the gap between maintaining IP rights and arbitrary compulsory licensing that could deter the technological investment from creating life-saving solutions in the future.

Poll: What’s your view on this issue?

  • IP rights on vaccines should be granted on equal bases
  • Limited IP waivers can be a solution
  • Free IP rights on vaccines for developing countries