What is the Covid vaccine IP waiver issue?

September 30, 2021

The world is facing the biggest global pandemic of the 21st century so far. Many countries have faced two or more waves of Coronavirus. It has been a real concerning issue for all parts of the world where mankind exists. The one positive development in this direction is the vaccines developed by various organizations or government agencies around the world. They are the only way that we can prevent the widespread of Covid-19 that we know to date. Still, it has not been able to eliminate the virus from the globe completely. It is not like the vaccines are entirely incapable of eliminating Coronavirus from major parts of the world, but it’s other challenges that are obstructing the way. 

The first and foremost problem is that there is not enough vaccine production to vaccinate the whole world in a go. What that means is the reach countries are making sure to vaccinate their population first in order to save their population from the pandemic, and it can not be termed as a wrong step either. When an emergency occurs, and the oxygen in an airplane drops, you always put your mask first before helping someone else. But that is one of the prime reasons allowing the virus to evolve and survive on the planet in the first place. 

The concept of Covid vaccine IP waiver

You already know the challenge in front of the world as we are not able to vaccinate the global vaccination due to lack of vaccines. The concept is very straightforward; some countries are demanding to suspend the intellectual property rights over the Covid vaccines so that they can accelerate the production to vaccinate the globe. The request was raised by India and South Africa at first in the World Trade Organization (WTO). It later received support from countries like the United States, Russia, and China. 

How can vaccine IP waiver help the world?

We are not able to utilize the full potential of vaccine production capacity all around the world. When the countries are allowed to mass-produce vaccines, it will significantly reduce the cost of the vaccine globally. As a result, vaccines will be more accessible in low-income countries. It can prove to be a game-changer as we will be able to leverage the complete potential of global vaccine manufacturing capacity. India, one of the countries to raise the issue in the WTO, is the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world. The case remains the same for the Covid-19 vaccines. India is producing the largest number of Covid-19 vaccines in the world, including the UK developed AstraZeneca.

The suspension of Intellectual Property on Covid vaccines will allow countries like India to manufacture other vaccines too. It will eventually multiply the number of vaccines produced daily all around the globe. The biggest vaccine crisis in poor countries in Africa and Asia can be met only if we have more vaccines than the global demand. Otherwise, the vaccines will be limited to rich countries only. One or two jabs of the Covid vaccine are not enough to protect an individual for a lifetime, and you scientists are already saying that one would need booster jabs after a fixed duration of time. It makes the mass production of vaccines even more crucial.

Why do we need to vaccinate the whole world?

The first reason why we need to vaccinate the whole world is obviously that we are human beings, and we can not let others die just because they can not afford a vaccine. But this is not the only reason why everyone takes it so seriously. After all, we are all selfish, and humans in the 21st century do nothing without greed. The most vital reason why we need to vaccinate the whole world is that we want our safety. Yes, you heard it right, and you can check better read a medical journal to understand it in detail, yet here is a brief explanation.  

If any part of the world is not vaccinated and Covid continues to spread in that particular region, it means that it can spread to the other parts of the world too. The biggest concern, in this case, would be the mutation in the Coronavirus. The virus causing trouble today is already a lot different than what it was when it originated or was first discovered in Wuhan. In that case, the virus can mutate to a level where the vaccine will have no effect on the virus, and we will be at equal risk as to the people who are not vaccinated. That’s the prime reason why we need to vaccinate the whole world, as the only reason to be safe from Covid is to completely eliminate every single case in the world. 

Is it a good or bad thing for the inventors or the owners of the Intellectual Property?

Well, to be precise, it is obviously not something that the owners of the IP would enjoy. They obviously made their efforts and resources to invent the formula for the vaccines. If the IP is suspended, they will not get any profit out of it. But when it comes to the lives of mankind, we can not just consider the profits. So, both sides are right at certain levels in this case. Let’s see what comes out in the end. We hope there is some way that the interest of both sides is not compromised, and they can find a way to eliminate the virus to get out of this global pandemic. 

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