What is Vaccine Patent War?

The times never get better, it’s only we start to adapt to the worse. This is true with the present COVID scenario in the world overall. The world is still fighting its war with COVID every day, everyday someone is winning a battle whereas someone is losing it to the virus. After months of losing and winning the world has adapted this lifestyle, though the war is still on in many parts of the world. Some nations have seen the worse whereas some are still witnessing it. But with the passage of time, the main aim of this pandemic has shifted from saving lives to other materialistic things. The human life has now become a secondary concern for the elitist, whereas supremacy, diplomacy and fame have come into play. Now COVID isn’t that big concern in the UN lobbies as compared to the vaccine diplomacy and patent rights is. The world which was standing united to fight the invisible enemy has now fallen apart into two groups viz. the one who wants the patents on corona vaccines to be removed and the others backing the claim of monopoly rights regarding the patents. Vaccine Patent Rights is the hot toast of the town these days and so let’s understand this through these 3 questions!!

What are patent rights?

A patent right is something which allows only its holders to make use, sell a product or manufacture it. This legal right gives the advantage to its holder to create and sustain a monopoly in a particular field. These rights usually are obtained when someone makes a ground breaking discovery. Said so we all know what is the biggest ground breaking discovery of the present times, yes, the vaccine against COVID-19. Scientist and companies around the world worked round the clock last year and came up with the world’s fastest developed vaccine. The efforts were remarkable and to pluck the fruits for their hard work, the vaccine developers obtained a patent for their work, thus barring all the other players to produce these shots and enter the market. All this worked well for the developed nations like the USA, Australia, the UK and others as they had surplus resources to procure the vials and protect their citizens. But what about backward countries of Africa and Asia who don’t even have basic medical facilities to fight the virus?

Why is this gaining momentum now?

The US has vaccinated half of its population, and have surplus dozes to vaccinate the rest. The UK has also implemented full swing vaccination drive. World’s largest vaccination producer India has also begun its vaccination drive and has also exported millions of dozes to help the backward countries. The UN has set up global vaccination fund to help the backward countries procure vaccines. Everything seems fine. But now the question arises if everything is going so picture perfect then why there is an upsurge in the demand for scrapping the patents rights over the vaccine across the globe? The answer to this radical demand lies in the recent COVID trends in countries like India and Brazil. Even after launching the vaccine drive in both these countries, the corona cases are still on a surge. The world’s largest vaccine producer the Serum Institute located in Pune; India is facing difficulties in catering the domestic needs for the vaccine. If this is happening with a country like India, the situation of the other developing and 3rd world countries is unimaginable. This rapid rise in demand and ineffective global supply has called for global attention to the matter.

How has the world reacted to this?

Governments across the seas have fought this pandemic together, but this issue concerning the vaccine and its patents rights has seemed to have polarized the governments into two extreme groups. The developed ones who are against the scrapping of these rights and the others who are pro to the idea of scarping the rights. Countries like Australia, UK and EU does not support this idea. They state the reason that companies have invested billions of dollars to develop the vaccine and scrapping the rights would not be just to them. Also, according to them, this move might hamper their contribution in the future pandemics. Plus, the quality of the dozes will also come to question if the rights are removed haphazardly.

The opponent group is quite large and members some advance countries like the USA, India, South Africa, China along with other developing countries. There stand is the companies which developed the vaccines received billions of dollars during the research period from their respective governments, and have also minted enough to honor their efforts. These nations also state the 3rd and 4th waves of the virus are unavoidable and to save the mankind vaccination is the only viable option. This has raised the demand for vaccines and so the supply needs to be increased. The scraping of patent rights will definitely help us in this war against the virus.

The stands of both the groups are undeniable and thus the matter has been referred to WTO patent body TRIPS. the matter is being discussed thoroughly and a smart decision is on its way. Till then mask up fellows and let’s hope for the best!!

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