The administration of the United States released a statement that it shall stand in support of a waiver of Intellectual Property Rights for the production of the vaccines which provide immunity against the novel coronavirus. The aforementioned statement has divided the world off -guard, on both sides of the argument.

Originally in 2020, India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization had drafted a proposal for relaxation of regulations under The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Moreover, during the presidential run of the present President-Elect of the United States, Joe Biden, his campaign had promised to commit to the sharing of the vaccine technology with countries that needed it. Nonetheless, Mr. Biden had the aforesaid agenda in top priorities of the list. The aforementioned statement announces the intent of the MR. Biden’s administration to fulfill the said promise.

However, what was supposed to be a well-intentioned and pro-developing countries policy decision and was expected to yield positive outcomes, has been rebuffed by major European Union Nations and met with several counter-suggestions that might cause instability in the US government and around the world. The quid pro quo not working with the majority of the nations comfortably, including the export of ingredients for the vaccine being one of the most valid arguments. The most criticisms are thrown by the French and the Germans.

There seem to be some merits to the said argument. However, one cannot deny the dire need for the IPR waiver and sharing of the technology behind the vaccine to the developing and undeveloped nations. Hence, the merits of the aforesaid argument against the IPR waiver of the vaccine are needed to be handled tactfully. The major inhibitions that are predicted to resolve the vaccine deficit issue shall be firstly, the IPR waiver would be accompanied by the Tech-Transfer that provides generic pharmaceutical manufacturers with the requisite trained personnel, raw materials, and hi-tech equipment and production know-how.

Secondly, there must be a scientifically convincing answer to the question of how any vaccine then produced by these generic manufacturers, in years to come from now, would pass the test of safety immunogenicity and protective efficacy. Thirdly the impact on global supply chains for vaccine production should be examined so major distractions might be avoided and lastly, alternative options to urgently address vaccine shortfalls should be considered including Developed Nations sharing a significantly greater part of their vaccine stockpiles particularly in cases where the latter exceeded projected domestic need.

Moreover, all said and done, the vaccine IPR waiver shall persuade pharmaceutical companies to accept less painful measures including sharing some of their technology willingly, agreeing to joint ventures to increase global production expeditiously, and simply produce more doses at affordable prices to donate directly to where the need is more severe especially in a country like ours.


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Written By:

Abhishek Khare (Advocate) 

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