Joint declaration on the importance of intellectual property rights in advancing equitable access to vaccines and therapeutics for pandemic preparedness

May 15, 2022

We are an informal coalition of civil society organisations that believes a robust global framework for the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights plays a key role in ensuring the world is prepared for future pandemics.

In the current pandemic, the IP system underpinned the development of multiple new safe and effective vaccines in record time and the manufacturing of billions of doses, saving hundreds of millions of lives. The ability of the private sector to innovate, manufacture, and distribute has brought life-saving therapeutics and vaccines to epidemics in the past, and it will no doubt play a key role in future pandemics.

Nevertheless, there has been a call by some member states to dilute or remove IP rights in the Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPR) Instrument in the early stages of discussion at the World Health Organization (WHO). The claim is that equitable access can only be achieved if developing countries manufacture vaccines locally, using proprietary technology and know-how forcibly appropriated from innovators.

Removing or weakening IP rights for pandemic vaccines and therapeutics would be highly counterproductive. It would undermine the incentive to invest in research and development (R&D) into new technologies and treatments. Equally as important, it would destroy the international manufacturing collaborations and partnerships that have proved indispensable to saving millions of lives in the current pandemic.