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Why Moderna, Pfizer and the NIH are debating who owns the Covid vaccine

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Why Moderna, Pfizer and the NIH are debating who owns the Covid vaccine

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It has been well over a year since a landmark proposal brought to light the issue of patent waiver for the Covid mRNA vaccine. But many observers fail to see that waiving intellectual property (IP) rights to Covid vaccines is an effective way to end the pandemic.

Proponents of patent waivers like Harsha Thirumurthy, an associate professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, argue that the problem is at the heart of why vaccines are less accessible in low-income countries. income.

“It limits the amount of manufacture of this product or this vaccine,” Thirumurthy said, adding that it keeps the price “artificially high enough to limit the capacity of other countries in the world”.

But critics counter that patent waivers will not automatically lead to improved global vaccine distribution.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was among those who initially spoke out against the patent waiver, pointing out that there are issues beyond the patents that need to be addressed first. Gates then reversed his position and now fully supports the temporary lifting of coronavirus vaccine patent protections.

“Having a billion vaccines in the warehouse of a developing lab will not help us get back to normal,” said Heath Naquin, vice president of government and capital engagement at the University City Science Center, a nonprofit research organization in Philadelphia. .

“The patent waiver itself doesn’t really solve these fundamental problems in many developing countries, which are not related to the recipe, they are related to how you communicate it to people.”

However, experts on both sides of the debate seriously doubt that a patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines will ever materialize.

“I think we had the best hope for it last year when a proposal came to the WTO and the Biden administration backed it,” Thirumurthy said.

“But we had European countries that objected to these patent waivers.”

Watch the video to learn more about the existence of vaccine patents and the ongoing debate about their impact on the Covid pandemic.

Why Moderna, Pfizer and the NIH are debating who owns the Covid vaccine

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