Vaccines: For whom? And at what cost?

Health comes first, legal and economic matters come second. Pandemics do not know how politics or international relations work. Faced with the shortage of vaccines, many people think that the patents should be suspended.

© Mint. Beneficiaries receive Covid-19 vaccine dose, at a vaccination centre in Surat.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ strategy should be applicable for everyone. Exterminating intellectual property will not only reduce vaccines’ prices, but it will also get many people vaccinated. Intellectual property rights do not necessarily hinder the vaccination process but the ‘how to’ does. According to Nathalie Coutinet, health economist, « These patents limit production. There are fewer quantities produced and the prices are higher »,

Dans le contexte actuel de pandémie, la levée des brevets sur les vaccins est une réponse trop simpliste face à un problème complexe

Manuel Rosa-Calatrava

Many specialists insist rather on the organizational aspect of the matter. For instance Maurice Cassier suggests a form of a shared intellectual property between vaccins owners and states since people have contributed in financing research laboratories though paying their taxes.

Advocates of the lifting make a practical point first. The current production of vaccines does not appear to be sufficient in view of the global challenge of controlling the epidemic.

En bénéficiant de contributions publiques d’une ampleur inédite pour développer ces vaccins: un partage des droits d’exploitation serait donc légitime »

Maurice Cassier

Rosa-Calatrava puts public health as a priority and suggest working on an international system intellectual properties. Additionally, he thinks governments should improve patrols system, loosen up the distribution chain. He adds on the necessity of making production materials available on the market.

Concretely, within the framework of the lifting of patents, the States would grant licenses to local players, without the holders of these patents having a say. This would make it possible, on paper, to increase the number of production sites and thus reduce the growing gap between rich countries and the poorest states.

Il faut travailler sur un système international de licences d’office, impliquant de négocier des redevances à la baisse, dans le but d’accorder des licences à tous les fabricants qui peuvent produire les vaccins.

Manuel Rosa-Calatrava

Focusing too much on intellectual properties rights as the main issue is leading the vaccination process nowhere. There is always a middle ground to make the economy and law work in favor of people’s health. In a globalized world, limiting the vaccination process to western countries will definitely have economical fallouts on both sides. We have always to bear in mind that the whole world is connected and resembles a human body. If a particular organ is affected, all the other organs are in pain.

Author: Imad Baazizi

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