For the last two years, the news cycle has flooded us with information about COVID-19, vaccines and how the world is coping with a new illness. As the world shifts its focus to other matters, there are still continued issues with COVID-19 and the methods for dealing with this challenging virus.
Initially, the primary concern was creating a vaccine that would be safe and effective. Now that a few vaccines exist, the question has changed to one of the ownership rights and who can manufacture the vaccine.
Here’s what you should know about the patent battles companies face regarding the vaccine.
Benefits of limiting the patent
At the heart of the debate is a patent waiver that would allow other manufacturers access to the information that would enable them to create and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. Rather than spending the time and research developing their own solutions, these companies could take the knowledge that already exists to get more vaccines out to the public.
Certain countries and companies are against the waiver because it would limit their opportunity to realize the profit from the hours of research and technology that went into developing the vaccines in the first place.
A push for a waiver
Ultimately, the intent behind a waiver is to make the vaccine available for as many people as possible. The push is especially strong in nations with fewer resources and suffering from increasing infection rates.
The challenge on both sides of the debate is that COVID-19 continues to mutate. Supporters of the waiver state that access to the intellectual property behind the vaccine will allow more people to access vaccines and boosters while the current mutations are relevant. On the other hand, those who oppose the waiver state that the mutation rate makes a waiver irrelevant since the virus could mutate several times before they complete production.
Intellectual property is an important element for creating and sharing an idea. The protection of intellectual property often allows the owner of the idea to continue producing valuable products and processes for their community.