Why waiving intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines is wrong

May 11, 2021

Last week the United States unexpectedly announced that it would join India, South Africa and others in supporting a proposal at the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines.

In theory, this would free up other companies to make copies of proprietary vaccines owned by the likes of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, speeding up vaccine roll-out in developing countries.

It is to the UK government’s credit that it – along with a handful of allies including the European Union – do not agree with this simplistic proposal. The UK must continue to make the case at the WTO and elsewhere that intellectual property rights matter; they will help us end this pandemic and help us prepare better for the next one.