Sudip Chaudhuri, ‘Patent Protection and Access to COVID-19 Medical Products in Developing Countries’

Several new vaccines that have been developed for COVID-19 are patent protected. The patentees control the production, supply and pricing of these vaccines. Most people in low-income countries have been unable to access the vaccines. India and South Africa supported by a large number of developing countries have submitted a proposal to the TRIPS Council of the WTO requesting a temporary waiver to eliminate patent and other intellectual property barriers for the development, production and supply of all COVID-19 medical products. Nine months have passed since the proposal was first made in October 2020 but still no decision could be taken because of the opposition from developed countries. The disagreements essentially revolve around four issues: whether suspension of patent rights will act as a disincentive for the development of new medical products; whether patented products can be manufactured in the absence of manufacturing capacities; whether voluntary initiatives are better than a patent waiver; and whether a waiver is necessary in view of compulsory licensing and other measures which TRIPS permits. The paper briefly reviews these issues and also provides some suggestions about what developing countries can do to make COVID-19 medical products affordable and accessible.

Chaudhuri, Sudip, Patent Protection and Access to COVID-19 Medical Products in Developing Countries (June 30, 2021). The edited version of the paper written in late June 2021, is proposed to be published as a chapter in the book, The Impact of COVID-19 on India and the Global Order – A Multidisciplinary Approach, edited by Mousumi Dutta, Zakir Husain and Anup Sinha.

First posted 2021-08-14 10:00:33

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